David Burbage’s weblog

Politics in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead

  • About David Burbage

    David Burbage MBE was Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council from 2007-2016. This blog : Promoted by Geoff Hill on behalf of David Burbage and all other Windsor and Maidenhead Conservative candidates, all of 2 Castle End Farm, Ruscombe, Berkshire RG10 9XQ
  • Meta

Just say no to dumbing down

Posted by davidburbage on February 11, 2009

My instinctive reaction to the ever-rising grades we hear from schools – and universities now – is that there is not an increase in brain power of our children, rather there is a confluence of more teaching-to-test, more coursework, lower pass marks and the rest of it.

The point of examinations is not really to reward the student, but to grade by ability based on the subject matter at hand so that the “qualification” (an important word) means what it says. Yes, we need to recognise hard work and yes, we need to ensure we don’t just fail people who are actually pretty good, but if 90% of the country’s students who took the exam are better than you at chemistry, we (and employers and higher education establishments) should be told.

There are four opportunities to get this right – by choosing the syllabus wisely (all the time in the world), by students choosing the right level of exam course correctly (lots of time), by marking accurately (apparently, increasingly difficult) and by grading accurately and properly (easy to say but requiring a political steer).

I can never work out why there is not a simple system that is consistent across the years, where the top 10% get an A, the next 15% a B,C,D,E and so on, the bottom 30% an F or a U. How hard can that be? If that’s not acceptable (as you will get the story that there are better ‘years’ than others but surely across thousands of students, that is a nonsense argument) – so if we published the percentages achieved, then focus could be moved onto the results achieved, the examination itself and the syllabus / teaching but at the moment that’s just not feasible.

John Smith –

Chemistry, 65%, 91st percentile result, grade A
English Literature, 67%, 69th percentile result, grade C

and so on. We have all this data, so why don’t we use it sensibly for the benefit of all concerned?

The big thing with statistics is that to be useful, they have to be consistent. But in education, they aren’t because of the obfuscation of moveable grades (there is a big irony there).

What inspired this post :

Score 18%, pass a science exam

It must be ‘too hard’ then, says examiner

edit : more Labour education nonsense; why they don’t do French any more



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: