Do they mix?
They don’t mix! Whilst we understand that the state is responsible for making policy for Education and setting the direction for improvement, the recent events in Scotland have worrying implications for schools in England.
We know what happened. The Government took a very early decision to cancel public examinations this Summer. Was it premature in doing so? Many think it was. Following that decision, a whole new process had to be set up to allow students to be awarded grades. The first part of this was to ask teachers to estimate performance based on their knowledge of the students, previous achievement and the targets set for the students. This they duly did. However, it didn’t finish there. The Government, through its agents, the Examination Boards, then applied an algorithm which is a statistical device which takes into account the previous performance of schools, their accuracy in forecasting grades and in Scotland this resulted in a downgrading of many student grades. Just think if you had worked your socks off but happened to be in a school which had performed poorly before, you would probably lose out. The Scottish First Minister has apologised for this and promised a review.
Now, we are 2 days away from the publication of results in England. What should happen? Postpone announcing grades until a similar review has taken place? Go ahead and hope that the number of appeals is not too great? The Examination Boards are very keen to safeguard the integrity of their testing and it will not allow the possibility of the best performance in a year when there were no Examinations-perish the thought. It my experience teacher estimates are never that far out overall and over a number of years. Teachers are aware of who is working hard and have seen and marked many pieces of work over the 2 years of an A level course. One concern here is that the big losers will be those students who increase their efforts considerably as the exams approach. We will all have examples of students who were staring at failure at mock examination time but get stuck in and do well in the Summer. When Mr. Gove abandoned coursework and went for a single, terminal examination he changed significantly the way teaching is delivered and removed one of the best developmental tools’ teachers had at their disposal. The marking and workshopping of coursework was a good thing which helped student teacher relationships and above all allowed students to improve their work incrementally as they wrote it. Please tell me what is wrong with that?
There is another major interest group in all this-the Universities. A level was designed as an ‘end of schooling’ examination. However, they have been seized by the Universities as their entrance exam. They don’t pay for the administration of them and often receive the results before the students do! I am sure the University admissions offices will be hoping for publication on Thursday so they can get their offers sorted and work out their potential income for the coming year when the potentially valuable overseas student market might contract significantly.
Let’s hope that the students of England get what they deserve on Thursday!
Produced By Michael Mckeever 26/08/2020