Poor UK education standards

lextalionis

Old-Salt
I've dragged this in here rather than the BBC bias thread as it's moved from the manufactured outrage in the media into a discussion on 2020 exam grades.


So if it couldn't be done in time what then? What do you do about the students who, for whatever reason, do not have mock exam / prelim results? How far back are you going with this data?

I honestly do not think your approach could have been done in the time which puts everyone in a worse position and (I suspect) would not have made much difference to the numbers of students appealing their grades.


Why is it harder? If anything that's a bonus as the number of appeals that don't meet the criteria will be dramatically reduced, freeing up the appeals staff to deal with valid cases. Schools should still be open on results days as they are every year to deal with these sorts of issues.


That would be very unfair, given the results aren't being released until the 24th in England. In Scotland the 14th is the cutoff for those wanting a university place, the 21st for others. The appeals are also free rather than the usual 40 quid.


That is the way that I interpreted you saying that disadvantaged students are being told their efforts don't matter much with the school thrown in as an afterthought. That suggests the SQA are downgrading students based on their home lives rather than the actual situation which is based on which school they go to.


An interesting way of phrasing those statistics. Firstly, the 'Higher passes' were not cut, the teachers' estimates were. Secondly comparing slightly more objectively:
Most deprived areas - teachers estimates reduced by 15.2% with an increase in passes compared to 2019 of 4.6% and 1.7% compared to 2018
Middle income areas - teachers estimates reduced by 10.9% with an increase in passes compared to 2019 of 3.9%
Least deprived areas - teachers estimates reduced by 9.8% (unable to find data for 2019 in the article)

So the kids from poorer backgrounds have actually done better than last year and the year before, both within their own income group and compared to those from higher income households. The teacher estimated grades have been reduced more because those teacher estimated grades were more inflated than for other income groups.

Here's a rather telling quote from that article - "Swinney and Ucas said the results showed better results and increased university acceptances for pupils from the most deprived neighbourhoods, with the attainment gap between the most and least deprived narrowing."

Now, I wonder who the Guardian decided to quote for all of this manufactured outrage? John Swinney (SNP), Iain Gray (Scottish Labour) and Amna Saleem (comedian and writes for the Guardian and Huffington Post).

At the risk of repeating myself, this is the best workable system that could have been put in place in time. Suggesting that people who don't know these students could come to any reliable judgement for every individual for every subject being taken is wildly optimistic in the time limit. It was hard enough trying to give an accurate estimate when I'd seen the students twice a week for a minimum of 2 academic years.
I was mystified when the government announced that exams would be replaced this year. I initially thought they might empty the schools and colleges except for Year 11 and Year 13, space them apart and give them preparation in time for the exams.

In all the debates on assessment and examinations, applying a system like this has never been proposed. It suggests a potentially very misplaced faith in statistical modelling (whose source may be the Cummings man) for predicting more or less anything. It makes certain characteristics - class, school, etc. - determining factors in ways that have never formally been before.

Fan. Sh1t. Sound of about to hit.
 
I was mystified when the government announced that exams would be replaced this year. I initially thought they might empty the schools and colleges except for Year 11 and Year 13, space them apart and give them preparation in time for the exams.
That would have been the fairest (although still not fair) way to do it and then adjust the grade boundaries to keep parity with the previous cohorts.

I am surprised the SQA are raising the overall percentage of passes, I would have thought they would keep them broadly the same as the previous results.
 
Sadly, I think that this years cohort will unfairly carry the stigma of "Well you never actually sat any exams did you ".
No fault of their own obviously, but it'll be interesting to see how their job prospects pan out.
 
Sadly, I think that this years cohort will unfairly carry the stigma of "Well you never actually sat any exams did you ".
No fault of their own obviously, but it'll be interesting to see how their job prospects pan out.
I doubt there will be much long term impact. Once they are into college / university / have some relevant experience no one will care what they got.

For all the wailing in the news about "I can't do [insert subject here] as my university place has been snatched away" it is very early to be stating that. In my experience universities tend to be fairly flexible on results day and I can't imagine them turning down a suitable candidate who they were planning accept anyway on the basis of these results.
 

Yokel

LE
Sadly, I think that this years cohort will unfairly carry the stigma of "Well you never actually sat any exams did you ".
No fault of their own obviously, but it'll be interesting to see how their job prospects pan out.
I saw some Scottish sixth formers being interviewed on TV the other day. All the ones they spoke to had achieved the results they wanted, but every one of them said they would have preferred to have actually sat the exams.

I am sure they would have had exams and tests as part of the course so teachers/lecturers could extrapolate.
 
I saw some Scottish sixth formers being interviewed on TV the other day. All the ones they spoke to had achieved the results they wanted, but every one of them said they would have preferred to have actually sat the exams.

I am sure they would have had exams and tests as part of the course so teachers/lecturers could extrapolate.
Everyone involved would have rather they sat the exams. As to extrapolation from tests, that's the theory but it doesn't work that neatly in reality.

Tests are done at the end of a topic so cover a very small amount of material. They also tend to be spread out between subjects (I get kids moaning if 3 teachers have set a test in the same week) whereas in an exam series at GCSE there will routinely be 1 exam per day and sometimes 2 (rarely 3).

Tests tend not be marked rigidly and moderation between teachers is often non-existent until it gets to mock exams. Students will do tests at different times in different classes so the motivated ones will find out what questions are coming up. There's also a lot more scope for cheating in a classroom (not many exam halls have posters with key facts and ideas stuck up around the room).

The single biggest issue is that most students don't really care about tests and mock exams. Every year I'm surprised by a few students, normally a couple of really hard working girls who went to pieces in the exam and a couple of lazy boys who did really well at the last minute.

Basically, test scores are useful at the time they are done to compare students and progress over time but not much cop for giving an accurate final grade. It would be like predicting the outcome of a horse race based on how it's going after the first half of the course.

What's being done is probably the fairest and most robust approach that will work in the time required. It's shit but less shit than the alternatives.
 

endure

GCM
I can remember every one of the teachers I had in secondary school. Admittedly I probably wouldn't recognise them today even with the coffin lids off ;-)

Just found a photo of them.

Mister Allit (bottom row, 6th from the left) spent two years telling me I was too stupid to pass my physics O level. He pissed me off that much I got a grade 2 (top grade was 1). When I told him he just smirked, the bastard...

ds.jpg
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
Just found a photo of them.

Mister Allit (bottom row, 6th from the left) spent two years telling me I was too stupid to pass my physics O level. He pissed me off that much I got a grade 2 (top grade was 1). When I told him he just smirked, the bastard...

View attachment 495551
Ah, that old trick.

I used that a few years ago to get a student from grade 3(D) to 7 (A). Under the present regime he might have got a 4 (C).
 
Sadly, I think that this years cohort will unfairly carry the stigma of "Well you never actually sat any exams did you ".
They will now in Scotland at least - Scottish school pupils have results upgraded . Some people might view this as cynical pandering to the youth vote by the SNP. It was a bit of a missed opportunity by those Scottish teachers who did give realistic estimates, they should have just put everyone down as an A grade student.

The real issue now is that where Scotland leads there will be pressure on the rest of the UK to follow. The NUS are already rabble-rousing over A level results which aren't released until Thursday (fortunately that doesn't affect me at my current school). Ofqual are stating the simple facts that teachers predictions simply cannot be accurate unless this year has the brightest students ever.

Stand by for protests next year demanding that the pass rate remains ludicrously high because otherwise it would be unfair.
 

endure

GCM
They will now in Scotland at least - Scottish school pupils have results upgraded . Some people might view this as cynical pandering to the youth vote by the SNP. It was a bit of a missed opportunity by those Scottish teachers who did give realistic estimates, they should have just put everyone down as an A grade student.

The real issue now is that where Scotland leads there will be pressure on the rest of the UK to follow. The NUS are already rabble-rousing over A level results which aren't released until Thursday (fortunately that doesn't affect me at my current school). Ofqual are stating the simple facts that teachers predictions simply cannot be accurate unless this year has the brightest students ever.

Stand by for protests next year demanding that the pass rate remains ludicrously high because otherwise it would be unfair.

Can I appeal my grade 9 in chemistry O level then?
 
They will now in Scotland at least - Scottish school pupils have results upgraded . Some people might view this as cynical pandering to the youth vote by the SNP. It was a bit of a missed opportunity by those Scottish teachers who did give realistic estimates, they should have just put everyone down as an A grade student.

The real issue now is that where Scotland leads there will be pressure on the rest of the UK to follow. The NUS are already rabble-rousing over A level results which aren't released until Thursday (fortunately that doesn't affect me at my current school). Ofqual are stating the simple facts that teachers predictions simply cannot be accurate unless this year has the brightest students ever.

Stand by for protests next year demanding that the pass rate remains ludicrously high because otherwise it would be unfair.
May have already been mentioned, but I recall a study just came out which showed that grades cannot be predicted from mock exams with much accuracy beyond 60-ish percent. As you go further down the chain (comprehensive schools, BAME etc, this figure falls further towards the floor).

I think it's a mess, but no idea what else they can do - delaying university by a few months would have been a better way of dealing with it I think - and then let the kids take their exams. Although I'm not sure how my colleagues would have voted on that, if UCU had asked us to vote on supporting such a move.
 
Can I appeal my grade 9 in chemistry O level then?
No. On the bright side, a grade 9 is now the highest grade (approximately equivalent to a grade 1 at O level or an A** at GCSE) so just don't mention the O level bit and it will sound excellent.
 

endure

GCM
No. On the bright side, a grade 9 is now the highest grade (approximately equivalent to a grade 1 at O level or an A** at GCSE) so just don't mention the O level bit and it will sound excellent.

Not when I mention the grade 2s I got for English, maths and physics :(
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
Grade inflation is back thanks to the fried Mars bar munchers. There'll be a grade 10 at GCSE within three years.
 
Grade inflation is back thanks to the fried Mars bar munchers. There'll be a grade 10 at GCSE within three years.
I posted these in the Jimmy Krankie thread but I think it bears repeating to emphasise just how massive this decision is.

This is the data from the SQA about Highers (from my understanding broadly equivalent to GCSEs, Advanced Highers being broadly equivalent to A levels). Notice the pattern in the A-C pass rate across the exam years and then a slight difference this year:

If the BBC article I linked to is correct then the 2020 Estimates are now the official final grades.

If you compare year-on-year change in the A-C pass rate in Highers it looks like this:


Ignore the last two columns, that was me comparing different ways of adjusting the grades. That's not so much grade inflation as grade explosion.
 
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lextalionis

Old-Salt
I posted these in the Jimmie Krankie thread but I think it bears repeating to emphasise just how massive this decision is.

This is the data from the SQA about Highers (from my understanding broadly equivalent to GCSEs, Advanced Highers being broadly equivalent to A levels). Notice the pattern in the A-C pass rate across the exam years and then a slight difference this year:

If the BBC article I linked to is correct then the 2020 Estimates are now the official final grades.

If you compare year-on-year change in the A-C pass rate in Highers it looks like this:


Ignore the last two columns, that was me comparing different ways of adjusting the grades. That's not so much grade inflation as grade explosion.
Every Web toed, whisky swilling Scotsman will now be off to Youknee.
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
It all went tits up in the 70s when the trainee teachers stopped wearing ties and started smoking pot.
 

Yokel

LE
The current controversy over using mock exams and extrapolation to try to predict final results makes me wonder about the value of exams as opposed to other types of assessment.

For example, when I did GCSE English at school it was all coursework. I am not sure an exam could test one's ability to use language to describe ideas, write creatively, or to put forward arguments.

I once had a practical Chemistry exam which involved doing practical work, and a major part of an exam (Microelectronics) a couple of years later involved writing an assembly langauge program. These were about skill and not just memory. However, can the same thing be said for exams which demand students commit dates or quotes to memory?
 

lextalionis

Old-Salt
The current controversy over using mock exams and extrapolation to try to predict final results makes me wonder about the value of exams as opposed to other types of assessment.

For example, when I did GCSE English at school it was all coursework. I am not sure an exam could test one's ability to use language to describe ideas, write creatively, or to put forward arguments.

I once had a practical Chemistry exam which involved doing practical work, and a major part of an exam (Microelectronics) a couple of years later involved writing an assembly langauge program. These were about skill and not just memory. However, can the same thing be said for exams which demand students commit dates or quotes to memory?
I must disagree, for the following reasons:

1. Exams are the fairest form of assessment - they are the least prone to candidates cheating, or teachers manipulating or "correcting" the assessment;
2. The work you suggest can and should be completed in the normal course of work, but all skill must be buttressed by some form of knowledge - there's no point analysing history brilliantly if you know no or little history;
3. Exams also help prevent privileged morons from doing too well - Harry Merkle only got a commission because his art teacher did much of his coursework (apparently) - in RE, an examined subject, be only got a D (compared to a B for art).
 

TotalBanker

Old-Salt
I doubt there will be much long term impact. Once they are into college / university / have some relevant experience no one will care what they got.

For all the wailing in the news about "I can't do [insert subject here] as my university place has been snatched away" it is very early to be stating that. In my experience universities tend to be fairly flexible on results day and I can't imagine them turning down a suitable candidate who they were planning accept anyway on the basis of these results.
If they get a degree and go into banking/finance, it will be all about the degree level, no-one will probably even ask about A levels. Thats been my experience anyway. If you say you got good grades at A level youll need to prove it in background checks but degree plus experience means it wont come up in the interview
 
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