Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gove to replace exams with exams

In a bold new measure the Education Secretary Michael Gove has decided to change the name of the examinations that secondary pupils sit from GCSE back to O-level in an attempt to make them seem tougher.

An anonymous spokesperson for the Conservative Party didn't say "This is an important move in reconnecting to our core demographic of tabloid readers and the elderly while reinforcing our policies of elitism"

Sarcasm aside parts of this do make sense - having only one board set the examinations for the entire country for instance. In a competitive market schools are likely to pick the exam that will give them the highest marks and boards will adjust their offerings accordingly. However what Gove giveth he also taketh away - schools will be able to determine their own curriculum; so again to get the higher marks some might be tempted to avoid the 'harder' subjects.

There's also the grammar school conundrum. Pupils will be funnelled into two streams - those taking the harder O-levels and those the easier CSEs. A pupil who initially tests poorly (or well) may well find themselves locked into a stream that they can't cope with. Worse yet border-line cases are likely to be removed from the challenge of the tougher exams in order to keep the school's grades higher and thus potentially never be challenged to their full potential.

Is there a problem with the current system though or is it merely the perception of one? Grades have been pushing higher and their are only a few conclusions that can be drawn from that:

Pupils are getting smarter;
Exams are getting easier; or
Teachers are aiding pupils.

The simplest method of testing for this is to have pupils sit the current exam and then sit one written 10 years ago. I wonder why that hasn't been done (or if it has why it hasn't been given more publicity)?


Orphi said...

The sarcasm! It burns!

I sometimes wonder how much of this nonsense actually gets implemented, and how much of it is just to grab headlines.

FlipC said...

Oh it's all to grab headlines that's how they can discover if it should be implemented or not.

Orphi said...

Hmm. So, it's kind of like a public vote, except that the only “public” who have a say is the newspaper editors? :-P

FlipC said...

Well of course the newspapers are the 'voice of the people' after all [shudder]

'Self-fulfilling prophecy what's one of those then?' - newspaper editor