Wednesday, August 18, 2004

A-Levels, A* grades and Es

It's school exam results time again, and so we have the so-certain-you-could-set-your-watch-by-it celebration of ever higher pass marks (incidentally good politics from Milliband - are the Tories really going to say to most of their supporters 'you're children aren't as clever as you think they are'?), and the bemoaning of falling standards by Peter Cuthbertson.

The problem identified is that some candidates spelt 'literature' wrong, in the English Literature GCSE and still got an A*. This seems ludicrous, as it was on the the front of the paper. Nevertheless it's not clear how many, if any, candidates actually were given an A* and it would probably be equally ludicrous to make it a reason not to give an A* ("This paper seemed to me to the finest paper I have ever seen on the subject, but the candidate couldn't copy 'literature' correctly, so I have given it an 'E'").

As scandalous or not as that might be, it hardly compares to the greatest modern exam scandal of our time when a candidate was marked down from a certain A or B in his General Studies A-Level to an E, because of left-wing political bias. I'll let the Marking Martyr speak:

If these tests are really vetting for political views, it is a disgrace, and I have to wonder what the markers of the second and third papers were thinking. Arguing for private education and against multi-culturalism will not appeal to the Guardianistas who dominate teaching and exam boards. But that isn't the point. Whatever views expressed, they should be marked fairly, on grounds of writing, knowledge and ability. This does not appear to have been what happened in this case.


With standards falling so quickly, I doubt our children learn verb conjugation anymore, particularly in the English 'Litriture' GCSE. If they did however we clearly have a new irregular one:

He passed his exams.
You only got an A* because of falling standards
I'm a victim of political bias.