If you have been following the BBC’s coverage of the English exam marking saga you may be a little confused.
As I am.
I understood that the problem was that the exams in January were marked too generously…and therefore the June exams were marked more rigorously….i.e. to the proper standard. This would mean that those students taking the exams in January have in fact received grades that they may not have merited…higher than deserved…but the story we get…and the story accepted without question by the BBC is that the students in June, who have been marked properly, have been treated unfairly and have lost countless jobs, apprenticeships and university places because of too harsh marking.
Maybe I’m wrong…and a little too hardnosed, but it seems that they got the marks they merited in June and those in January should pretend they took their exams in June….for a bit of credibility.
Nice though of the BBC to side unquestionably with the downtrodden students and the teachers.
Below is an interesting comparison of the BBC’s coverage and the Telegraph’s….which one do you think mentioned teachers ‘cheating’?
The BBC made absolutely no mention of it at all…no mention of the admissions by teachers to OFQUAL that the Telegraph lays out for us.
The BBC does however give us what must be just about every whinge and moan from the teachers and the Unions that are horrified at any suggestion that they may be to blame.
Teachers have hit out at claims they marked GCSE work too generously, as new data show the decline in pupils getting at least a C in English.
Glenn Smith, principal of Honiton Community College in Devon, told the BBC that teachers in his English department used “stringent” measures to ensure they were marking these assessments fairly and consistently.
“An awful lot of work goes into ensuring their marking is accurate – the pressure they live with is intense,” he said.
“To say they’ve marked up is outrageous.”
Philip Rush, deputy head teacher at St Peter’s High School, Gloucester, said: “The fiasco surrounding the unfairness of this summer’s grades is a political not an educational fiasco.
“St Peter’s High School deplores the slur made on the school’s teachers, and on all English teachers working in England,
Val Tyreman, a science teacher from Stockton-on-Tees, described Ofqual’s report as “appalling”.
John Townsley, executive principal of two academy schools in Leeds, said: “The problem is that Ofqual were asleep in the early part of the award.
Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “For Ofqual to suggest that teachers and schools are to blame is outrageous and flies in the face of the evidence.
“The accountability measures do place tremendous pressure on teachers and schools, especially at GCSE grade C, but to say that teachers would compromise their integrity to the detriment of students is an insult.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “It is a diversion to attempt to blame teachers for following the rules they were given.
Teachers’ anger over the marking fiasco was reflected in a survey in the Times Education Supplement.
The survey of 467 secondary schools in England found 93% had lost faith in Ofqual, with more than half saying they had no confidence in the regulator.
Responding to the survey schools described the watchdog as “underhand”, “incompetent”, “bullying and callous” and “a Gove puppet”.
Ofqual: ‘We have to cheat, nanny and fiddle’, teachers say
Teachers have admitted “fiddling” exam grades and cheating to keep up with rivals they distrust, a report by Ofqual claims, as one reveals: “We have to cheat because other schools will be doing so.”
In their own words: how teachers were pressured into bending the system
I’ve just read my school e-mail to find the instructions for getting the CA [controlled assesssment] folders together, and including the instruction ‘All folders must be at or above target grade.’ This is being done by either getting kids to rewrite CAs after they’ve been marked, or by fiddling the Speaking and Listening grades to make up for lost marks on the written work. When I’ve dared to suggest that the CAs should be done in exam conditions and that lots of schools are doing that, I’m told that that is rubbish, that CAs are really coursework, and that we have to cheat because other schools will be doing so, and we cannot afford to let our results slip at all.
The drive to achieve targets is definitely corrupting and I loathe being made to feel that I am not doing right by my students because I am not making them stay behind after school week after week to rewrite the bloody things.
The school felt that proper regulation of CA was well-nigh impossible and that controlled conditions were being interpreted very differently in different schools. This was creating suspicion and distrust between schools.
I feel I am being made to cheat. I’ve taught the kids and then let them do the tasks – we have to do them in the classrooms, except for those who need access arrangements, who are under the beady eye of external invigilators. I taught my kids, gave them the opportunity to make notes, and then did the damned things like an exam. Result? Lots of them underperformed against their targets. Not good enough. This work, I am told, is really coursework, and has to be at target grade, or they will not reach their targets at the end of the course. Others in the department have done marked drafts. I’m now feeling pressured to get some of mine to redo various pieces. I’ve voiced my objections, but have been told that the long and the short of it is that they have to be nannied through at every stage – there is disbelief when I say that some schools are doing the CAs as exams. I resent the implication that I am failing my kids, when actually what they produce is probably more accurate as an indication of their abilities than their target grades are. The sooner this nonsense is stopped and we go back to 100 per cent exams, the better.
Wide variety of methods for putting CA in place, such as students writing a first draft which was then given written comments by teacher. This being subsequently written up by a student. Doesn’t feel like a level playing field.”
The mark scheme is so vague you can drive a coach and horses through it.
However, the real problem is that no matter what syllabus we teach, we will still be expected to get students up to grades that are unrealistic and we will still be expected to ‘teach to the test’ to get them through. The pressure on teachers to get results is preventing us from doing any real teaching.
We have been asked to rework controlled assessments, mark them and give them back for improvement. In some cases we are virtually writing them for the students. This to me is no different to coursework and raises the issue of why coursework was replaced.
Interesting how the BBC were all over the police for rewriting their Hillsborough reports but are happy to look the other way when teachers are rewriting pupils exam work.