Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Seasons out of synch

Maybe it's global warming (of course; it gets the blame for everything else natch) but our seasons currently seem out of synch. I didn't think it was exams-knocking season for over a month yet, but clearly it's started early this year. The BBC reports that a Watchdog is to debate exam difficulty, in that across the board subjects are not comparable, with some being far easier to achieve the top grades in (or even pass) than others. Quite right too. But quite wrong if the end result is that the harder exams get dumbed down to make them comparable to the easier ones. They have already been doing that for a number of years.

Indeed, on the day of my subject's GCSE exam, I found myself scoffing and scowling once I had a paper in my hands. I even had to read the small print on the Higher paper to ensure it wasn't actually a Foundation paper instead. It was ridiculously easy compared to the past papers we had been practising. And whilst that will be reflected in our results, I did think it was a shame that the students hadn't been challenged to produce their very best on the day by something with a bit of oomph. It also means you can probably pass the subject without knowing very much at all.

Then there was the story that Markers award students for writing obscenities on papers, which I even heard discussed on "Parliament Today", where ministers took the opportunity to start deriding many different exam questions at different levels. It seems that this story is actually about a chief examiner who uses a sample script each year to demonstrate a point, but it is heartening to know that half of the sink set at least won't come out of the exam with zero.

Pupils are being rewarded for writing obscenities in their GCSE English examinations even when it has nothing to do with the question.
One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully.
His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way. He told trainee examiners recently to adhere strictly to the mark scheme, to the extent that pupils who wrote only expletives on their papers should be awarded points.
Mr Buckroyd, chief examiner of English for the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), an examination board, said that he had given the pupil two marks, out of a possible 27, for the expletive.


Missbhave said...

I couldn't believe it when I read about the student getting marks for swearing. The spokesman didn't seem to see anything wrong with this either.

As the future teacher of a 'difficult' subject I do worry that the only words they'll learn are the swear words they look up themselves. As long as they spell them correctly, they'll probably get Cs.

oldandrew said...

The funniest thing was the report that he'd have got three marks if he'd used an exclamation mark.