Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Monday, 1 March 2010

Moving the GCSE goalposts

Oops, we did it again! Too many A grades and passes at GCSE means talk of grade inflation and we don't want that.

Luckily for Ofqual, there's an easy answer. Just downgrade the science papers at the last minute. After all, that sort of statistical jiggery-pokery is used all over the place.

'The number of candidates awarded a grade C or above was predicted to rise by 2.4 per cent, and the number achieving an A grade to increase by 0.8 per cent, based on marking by exam boards.'

Until Ofqual chief executive Isabel Nisbet stepped in, that is. A little billet-doux to the exam boards was all it took.

'When the results were published, the rise in grades C and above in science had been scaled back to 0.9 per cent, and the increase in the top grades of A and A* was up by 0.2 per cent.'

This translates across the board into a cohort of sixteen-year-olds whose qualifications cannot now be fairly judged against those of, say, the year before. And here I have to admit to grinding an axe - when the Urchin applies to university, decisions will be made by comparing the GCSE results of candidates from different year-groups.

It's not a matter of precision - just how many A and A* grades the candidate clocked up. And who's going to consider how many they could have had if politics had not intervened?

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