Friday, September 09, 2005

47%? Have an A*

GCSE Business Studies students only had to earn 47% in one particularly difficult exam to achieve an A* grade from the AQA examination board according to the BBC.

"All [Examination] boards adjust the marks needed in an effort to maintain the standard of their exams year-on-year". Maintaining standards can only be interpreted as an admission that year-on-year improvements in GCSE results are totally artificial. Whilst the number of A* to C grades in 2005 were up 2% on 2004, they could just as easily have been down 2% if the exam boards had to "adjust the marks needed in an effort to maintain the standard" downwards!


The Fringe said...

You'd think this was a no brainer, I'm amazed it hasn't been sorted.

Surely this is the opposite of maintaining that 'gold standard'. It's as logical as maintaining the high standard of athletics world records by making them easier to break.

"Nobody could make the 100 metres in under 10 seconds this year, so we extended it to 12 seconds. We're delighted to announce our athletes are winning more medals than ever, and therefore standards are higher! Woot!"

Scott said...

Well done to all those who attained the A grade, but just how far does this stain the academic achievement of the students who managed A grade results in years passed?
What do we have to look forward to if our next generation of Managing Directors are not as highly skilled in their academic genius as they are now...he says with his tongue in cheek.

lascivious said...

I read a similar article in the Times. It seems you can get a C in GCSE maths by only answering 16% of the questions correctly. And this is the grade needed to go to university (all of the good ones require C in maths, english, a foreign language and a science).

Gavin Ayling said...

It makes no sense to me, I have to say. What's the point of getting 80% if your grade is the same?

Astolath said...

The ones I feel sorry for are the kids themselves...

My 16-year-old has just passed his GCSEs and worked bloody hard to get decent grades. There was no shortage of effort on his part, but like thousands of others, he's being told by everyone that his certificates aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

I was a lazy bugger myself - never revised for my o'levels and got seven good passes - that was back in the mid 80s. Were things just as easy then? It would be interesting to trawl back through the data to find the real story, but who's got the time?

I suspect that whatever the story, this time next year we'll be having the same national debate on the subject...

Snafu said...

Lascivious, it would also mean you are qualified to teach!

Astolath, the most sensible comments on the GCSE debate suggest that 16 year olds such as your son are victims of a flawed examination system.

How can employers choose the best candidates when everyone will have A* grades in a couple of years yet basic spelling and arithmetic are not required!?!

Many commentators compare ever improving GCSE grades to ever faster Olympic 100m sprints. They forget that only one gold medal is ever given out for the fastest runner!

PS I think you're right that we will engage in the same debate next year!!