Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Exam Markers

Why on Earth anybody should be surprised at the recent news that the exam markers are telling the teachers what will be on the test along with the answers, is a mystery to me.

Ask yourself  "Why would they not do so."

The whole exam system is crazy. Exam boards need to sell their courses and therefore compete to have the easiest questions. Teachers are in turn put under pressure by their schools to give the kids ridiculous amounts of help in their 'controlled assessments' which were brought in a few years back to try and stop all the blatant cheating that went on with coursework.

It is in everybody's interest to cheat as much as possible and preferably more than the school next door. (Who said that competition has been removed from modern state schooling?) The Government can claim that exam results have gone up again, as can the Local Authority or Academy bosses. The Senior Management Team in each school are happy and of course the more a teacher cheats, the better their results become, which is hardly bad for them either. This is not news, it has been going on for ten years at least.

So who is supposed to be putting a stop to this? The watchdog Ofqual, a joke organisation who spent £3000 in 2008 paying consultants to look for alternatives to the word "error" because it was not considered positive enough.

Now you could argue that if everyone is cheating by roughly the same amount then it all evens out in the end and that nobody trusts GCSEs anyway, but I'm not sure if this is really the best principle to base our exam system on.


Don said...

How times have changed! When I took my O levels and A levels, our school used the JMB because it was reputed to set "hard" exams, and therefore the passes/grades were worth more than those of the "easier" boards - or so we were told.

There was no such thing as coursework, but we practised on so many past papers that predicting which topics were likely to come up again as questions was simple probability: our teachers had no real need to "cheat"

Dack said...

Nationalise 'em.

Joe said...

Delighted to see someone else commenting on this "Through the Looking Glass" situation. The authors of Freakeconomics have a great essay about the drivers behind this trend.

Mr Shrek said...

Seems to me that all the 'errors' in the system add up to the performance improvement the government were looking for in the first place!

Red Admiral said...

The Joint Matriculation Board! That takes me back to the early sixties. Also known as Northern Universities I think. They were known for their brutality. Secondary Mods, who had some O-level candidates even in those far-off days, I think mostly used Oxford or London as they were thought to be the easiest.

VicolaW said...

I looked into becoming an exam marker for GCSE English to earn some extra cash, as I'm pretty much permanently skint. Apparently I am not qualified to do so, even though I have a first class honours degree in English Language from a good university. Which makes me wonder what other qualifications I really needed to spot the fact that on half the papers the only thing spelled correctly is the pupil's name and that some kids can write three pages without ever resorting to the use of punctuation. The ways of the education system remain a mystery to me.

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