Record pass rate with a quarter of A-levels at grade A

Discussion in 'Diamond Lil's' started by slim, Aug 16, 2007.

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  1. Hard to tell, but it is the same each year. Grades getting better and a group complaining that the exams are getting easier. I dont think we will ever know the truth, as exams have to change, as times change. But there is a possibility that young people are more intelligent now. But if so, that should support calls to make exams slightly tougher
  2. Preposterous. Grading should be done on a sliding scale, with percentage/scores being published. How on earth can an employer/university differentiate between a dozen candidates with 5 A* grades? How on earth can 25% of the student body get the top grade? It devalues the efforts of those who actually worked or how had the right aptitude.

    The successive education reviews over the last 20 years have made secondary education in the UK a laughing stock. I've vowed that, as things stand, my kids will be doing the International Baccalaureate, even if I've got to scrap the barrel to pay for their education. UK A-Levels are not worth the paper their certificates are printed on.
  3. Pupils are now taught how to pass the exam, as opposed to learning the subject.

    Hence the increasing pass rates.
  4. Hey I was taught how to pass the exams as well when I was at school, some time ago as well I might add.

    One of the reasons for the increases in top grade passes is that some years ago they stopped 'normalising, the marks. When the marks were 'normalised' they took your actual marks and changed them so that you ended up in the 'correct' place on the graph for an idealised set of results, hence only a very small percentage got an A. Now they simply award grades on the basis of your actual mark.

    Also amongst those motivated enough to sit A Levels you have an improvement in both exam technique as the little blighters get more sophisticated teaching and as the competition for the good University places is as strong as ever the motivation is also getting higher.

    Equally in the old days we lost out for bad spelling and english, so the present regime of ignoring that must bump most of them up a good few percent.

    If you add to that the growing maturity of the comprehensive concept and the existance of league tables and performance related pay the motivation from many teachers to succeed has also improved so that must also have an impact.
  5. Whilst looking for some past exams on tinterweb I came across a couple of docments from AQA, one of the main exam awarding bodies, where they had conducted research and evaluation of the papers and student results and it concluded that the paper was easier than the previous year.

    I have no doubt that this happens year on year so the government can show continual improvement !

    Having gone through some past exam papers my I found them far easier than I remember at school and got better results too - and that's after "many" years away from academic study.
  6. What tosh! Pupils have always been taught "how to pass exams". In the days of O Levels, you were taught about the need to learn some facts, some grammer, that bad spelling was negatively marked, how to build an argument, how to write and structure an essay, etc.

    It's got feck all to do with how the subject is taught, and everything to do with the lack of normalisation (as stated above) and a government that cannot cope with the idea of its teenagers not passing and a perceived need by Tony Bliar for 50% of students to go to university.

    But don't take my word for it: go ask employers and universities what they think about the standard of knowledge and the standard of learning that their 18 year olds have. The standards of english and maths have been discussed in another forum on RR. Why do you think that engineering degree courses are extending to 4-5 years to accomodate a first year concentrating on maths alone?

    The current resurgence for apprenticeships alongside academics is a positive thing, but we need an Education department that will shake up A Levels to produce an exam that awards fair grades across the years. You cannot reconcile 25 years of increasing numbers of A grades with a fall in knowledge and academic skills.
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  8. You`ve fallen for the teachers excuse of training days when-ever and where-ever.

    Why do exams have to change???

    In maths, 2+2 still =4,just as it always has and always will.
    In history, nothing has changed unless Doctor Who really has popped back to tamper with things.
    Biology... animals bodies and human bodies are still as they were.
    Chemistry... sodium whatsit is still salt.
    Economics... supply and demand is still the same.

    How any sane person can argue that exams are as hard as in my day is beyond belief. Its not sour grapes,its just fact.
  9. One of my sons is a university lecturer and he complains about many things, but not that much about the quality of the students, in general they have worked hard to get there and are motivated to succeed, and are capable of completing the course, equally our company finds most of our graduate apprentices very capable.

    University maths is a problem are, not because those studying maths are less good than their forbears, rather the opposite, real maths is now at a level that is beyond many engineers, and more complex than they need to understand. Sensible universities are now providing 'maths for engineers' aimed at solving engineering problems, rather than some of the more esoteric problems that worry real mathematitians and physicists.
  10. Unfortunately Maxi, this would perhaps indicate why less and less kids are taking Science type subjects these days, leading to a chronic shortage of graduates in much other than Darts, The Beckhams and bloody Knitting!!

    I am not and will not denigrate students at secondary school, it isn't their fault that GCSE's aren't a patch on 'O' Levels and that teachers are given guides and a curriculum that is targeted purely to the test, unlike when we were at school. To be honest it isn't the teachers fault either, it goes much higher than that in my opinion.
  11. The root of the problem does not lie in how hard or easy examinations are, the kids need a good grounding in the two core subjects maths and English. They do not appear to be getting this.
  12. Health and Safety legislation has killed science teaching. Yes it is always easy to blame " 'elf n safety" but in this case it is true.
  13. That's what you need/expect at GCSE level. For A Levels I expect a deeper dive education across a few subjects, aiming primarily at developing learning skills.

    Having done the university thing more than once, I've seen first hand the changing levels of students knowledge and expectations. Even at university they expect to be spoon fed and prepped for exams, rather than enjoying the experience of learning about something they care about (either because they love the subject or want to use it for a future career).

    A Levels, in their turn, prepare for university, or should. For engineering, that involves providing pupils with a grounding in pure and applied maths and physics. For law, English, History as an example. For chemistry, maths, physics and chemistry(!). Only guidelines, but each A-Level course needs to provide the groundwork for university.

    Now, as to the statement regarding changing subjects, sorry but the author shows a lack of understanding. The basics are the same as they ever were, but the basics are taught/covered at GCSE level, not A Level. Subject at A level has changed over the course of time, as understanding of subjects has changed. Take physics: 50 years ago, A levels covered atoms and their constituents, protons, electrons and neutrons. 20 years ago that moved to quantum mechanics, including quarks and photons. In biology, genetics is now a necessary part of the curriculum. In history, discussions on the cold war, on Vietnam are part of the curriculum.

    As I said, the foundations are covered at GCSE. A Levels are a deeper dive, bringing in recent or current updates to the subject, so will always change.

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