Another Gee Whiz Idea

There’s been a lot of fuss recently over the regrading of exam results i.e. going from A*,A, B, C, D, E, F (or something)  to grades 1 to 9 with 9 being the highest. This is not a subject that I have ever really concerned myself with. All the exams I’ve taken since leaving school were pass or fail with the pass mark being 70% so anything more was wasted effort.

Anyhow since the latest excitement I’ve take the time to google UK exam grading and boy ! I had no idea that it was so complicated and open to abuse by ‘social engineers’. My father in Law used to mark papers in Scotland and he told me that there was a quota system in the grading so that it didn’t matter if a bunch of students did really well in a particular subject, only a limited number were going to get high grades.

My idea (which has zero chance of being adopted) is that if you sit an ‘O’ or ‘A’ level you get a certificate which displays the mark that you obtained and not a grade. So if you get 90% in Maths your certificate shows this and even if you score 10% you still get a certificate (which you may wish to hide or shred). The point being that the certificate simply confirms that you took the exam and what marks were obtained. No grade fiddling by the jobsworths.

Author: jazz606

An Old Dog

8 thoughts on “Another Gee Whiz Idea”

  1. Until this term I was lucky enough to work at an institution with a “straight grade” policy. That is, it was A, B, C, D or F. For the first time, they’ve adopted the more typical mark with a +/-. So last year, a 90pc score was an “A”, but not it will be an A-. An 88pc would have been a B, but is now a B+. This was done to try to prevent grade inflation, but it results in increased pressure for those with scores within the decimal of a point which, in the past, would have been sufficient for a solid mark.That is, 82.47 would have to be a B-, not a B, because of one minute error.

  2. To my mind the only fair thing to do is to show the actual mark rather than a grade which requires arbitrary step changes as in CT’s example.

  3. When I took my ‘O’ and ‘A’ Levels I got a ‘proper’ mark… i.e. a number – none of this A, B, C, etc. or a grade 1 to 9. None of this grouping into ‘bands’ but what appeared to be a real assessment of my achievement. So when I looked at my A Level Pure Maths result, I knew that I was some 15 marks ahead of everyone else in my class – despite my teacher telling me she was sure I’d failed… Yes!

    I wasn’t so happy with my Applied Maths and Physics results – but I wasn’t that surprised – and, at least, I knew, what I’d always suspected, that I was absolutely hopeless in both of those subjects!

    Jazz, I think your idea is excellent… and should be adopted forthwith.

  4. I forgot to mention this earlier… Until fairly recently it was possible in some courses to apply for a pass/fail option. This was especially popular in mandatory courses — algebra, sciences, English, etc. which students generally hated. Anything from 70pc above was sufficient for course credit. Anything from 69pc down was a failure and credit was not given.

  5. Janus: In some jurisdictions it is illegal to release marks except to the student. Certificates give precious little information as to how students actually fared, save that they passed with honours, if any, listed. Marks can be released to the student who can do as s/he sees fit with them.

  6. Jazz, grades are intended to be a guide to relative success/failure. Papers vary in difficulty so in an ‘easy’ year, raw data would produce ‘too many’ top scorers; in a ‘hard’ year, too many rabbits. Hence the quota solution. The debate will run and run!

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