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Teacher assessed qualifications

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Clitheroekid
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Teacher assessed qualifications

#355400

Postby Clitheroekid » November 10th, 2020, 11:32 pm

The Welsh Government has announced that there will be no GCSE / A level exams in Wales next year, and that the qualifications will be awarded on the bass of teacher assessment.

I was listening to the Welsh Education Minister on the news before. She was asked whether she felt that Welsh pupils might be disadvantaged as against English pupils who had actually passed the exams, and she opined that employers would not see any difference.

This seems complete nonsense to me. We saw last year how when teachers were allowed to assess their pupils the pass rates and grades suddenly jumped by a very significant amount, and it's inevitable that teachers will always over-assess the abilities and skills of their pupils. It's why lawyers in personal injury claims will never obtain a report from the treating doctor, as they are too invested in the patient's recovery, and believe their skills are such that the patient will recover far more quickly than is actually likely.

So to my mind it will mean that Welsh children's educational qualifications for next year will be seen as inferior to those of English pupils.

If exams cannot be held (which I find very hard to believe) then it must surely be possible to have some form of independent assessment at intervals throughout the year, which would give a genuine and respected qualification.

And while I'm on the subject of education what possible reason can there be for having numerous exam boards? I remember many years ago when I was doing A levels that even then there were pupils `board-shopping' - choosing one board for one subject and a different one for another on the basis that they varied in difficulty. There should be just one national board, so everyone sits exactly the same exam at the same time.

stevensfo
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355430

Postby stevensfo » November 11th, 2020, 8:43 am

Clitheroekid wrote:The Welsh Government has announced that there will be no GCSE / A level exams in Wales next year, and that the qualifications will be awarded on the bass of teacher assessment.

I was listening to the Welsh Education Minister on the news before. She was asked whether she felt that Welsh pupils might be disadvantaged as against English pupils who had actually passed the exams, and she opined that employers would not see any difference.

This seems complete nonsense to me. We saw last year how when teachers were allowed to assess their pupils the pass rates and grades suddenly jumped by a very significant amount, and it's inevitable that teachers will always over-assess the abilities and skills of their pupils. It's why lawyers in personal injury claims will never obtain a report from the treating doctor, as they are too invested in the patient's recovery, and believe their skills are such that the patient will recover far more quickly than is actually likely.

So to my mind it will mean that Welsh children's educational qualifications for next year will be seen as inferior to those of English pupils.

If exams cannot be held (which I find very hard to believe) then it must surely be possible to have some form of independent assessment at intervals throughout the year, which would give a genuine and respected qualification.

And while I'm on the subject of education what possible reason can there be for having numerous exam boards? I remember many years ago when I was doing A levels that even then there were pupils `board-shopping' - choosing one board for one subject and a different one for another on the basis that they varied in difficulty. There should be just one national board, so everyone sits exactly the same exam at the same time.


I agree that it sounds absurd. I would rather trust an anonymous series of exams to judge ability than the say-so of a teacher who may have his/her favourites and pupils they can't stand. I remember kids from school who never impressed the teachers but managed to do very well in their exams and vice-versa. Also, there are always pupils who will not put the same effort into schoolwork that they put into exams.
The differing laws don't help either. I mean why did the rules allowing parents to take their kids out of school for up to ten days have to change in England, but not in Scotland? Crazy! It was a system that worked very well.
I can't remember having any rights in choosing the exam board when I did my O and A-levels, but I think it was more to do with the syllabus than with any board being easier or harder. But in those days it was a lot easier to enter as an external candidate than today. There were students at our school who registered to do some exams at the local Technical College, behind the back of the Sixth form tutors. Finding a place to take these exams today is much more complicated.

Steve

kiloran
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355441

Postby kiloran » November 11th, 2020, 9:22 am

I share your cancerns CK, but it's a difficult problem. In general, it should be possible to organise exams, but what if a town or school has to go into total lockdown at the time of an exam? What about pupils who suddenly have to self-isolate at the time of an exam?
Schools in cities are far more affected by Covid than those in isolated areas, so their learning will be much more disrupted and pupils in Covid hotspots will be disadvantaged.

With Covid, it's so difficult to predict what will happen over the next 6-9 months, so rather than make a last-minute decision to cancel exams like last year, it's perhaps better to do it now and develop a solid plan for teacher assessment. Not ideal, but perhaps fairer.

And, let's face it, even exams are not perfect. They are perhaps more a test of memory and nerve rather than a true test of ability and intelligence.

--kiloran

swill453
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355443

Postby swill453 » November 11th, 2020, 9:31 am

Part of the "grade inflation" of teacher-assessed grades is because teachers (naturally) assess their students on what they think they'll achieve on their best day.

Of course in a real exam situation, not all of them will be on their best day. To be more statistically realistic they would have to introduce some random downgrading to cater for students not feeling well, not had a good breakfast, not had much sleep the night before, had an argument with their parents etc. This would be obviously unfair.

So in a large part the grade inflation simply reflects the true capabilities of the students.

Scott.

bungeejumper
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355454

Postby bungeejumper » November 11th, 2020, 10:00 am

swill453 wrote:Of course in a real exam situation, not all of them will be on their best day. To be more statistically realistic they would have to introduce some random downgrading to cater for students not feeling well, not had a good breakfast, not had much sleep the night before, had an argument with their parents etc. This would be obviously unfair.

Unfair, of course, but it's been that way for as long as we've had an exam system, and we're still struggling to achieve a better balance. Although continuous assessment has taken quite a lot of the more acute pain and injustice out of the process.

When I were a student, everything depended on finals exams, which were monumentally unfair on female students who were having "that week" - and in the bad old days, the only alternative was to call for an aegrotat ("he/she was ill"), which never carried quite as much weight as a "standard" degree. As a student counsellor it was part of my job to get involved in some of these situations, and it could get pretty petty. Most female students opted not to go down the aegrotat route. Too much hassle, too many embarrassing questions.

Should we take school pupils' home lives into account when adjusting school exam results for poor home conditions, rows with parents, missed breakfasts and the like? Possibly, but it's going to be wide open to abuse. "I just broke up with my boyfriend, so I deserve a compensatory grade." Hmmm, that's one situation where the teacher probably does know better than anybody else.
So in a large part the grade inflation simply reflects the true capabilities of the students.

Not sure I follow the logic of that. Care to expand?

BJ

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355455

Postby gryffron » November 11th, 2020, 10:02 am

If life was "fair", we wouldn't need exams at all, because all teachers and all students would be the same. The point of exams is to measure the level each student has reached. Exams are a "fair" test of an "unfair" world. Teacher grades, by contrast, are an "unfair" test of an "unfair" world. We have decades of evidence from "predicted grades" which proves that teacher assessed grades are WAY wrong. On average more than a whole grade point wrong.

Although, to be fair, it sounds like what Wales is proposing is actually not teacher assessments at all, but rather teacher supervised classroom exams. Is the language to pacify the unions?

Gryff

swill453
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355460

Postby swill453 » November 11th, 2020, 10:10 am

bungeejumper wrote:Should we take school pupils' home lives into account when adjusting school exam results for poor home conditions, rows with parents, missed breakfasts and the like? Possibly, but it's going to be wide open to abuse. "I just broke up with my boyfriend, so I deserve a compensatory grade." Hmmm, that's one situation where the teacher probably does know better than anybody else.
So in a large part the grade inflation simply reflects the true capabilities of the students.

Not sure I follow the logic of that. Care to expand?

I'd only be repeating myself. Teacher assessment assesses capability. Exams assess capability + (random factors applicable on the day of the exam).

Scott.

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355465

Postby gryffron » November 11th, 2020, 10:22 am

swill453 wrote:I'd only be repeating myself. Teacher assessment assesses capability. Exams assess capability + (random factors applicable on the day of the exam).

I'd say: Teacher assessment assesses hope + (random factors like whether the teacher likes the child, out of school clubs, teacher boosting their own ego/performance)

Also, different teachers give different assessments. Therefore, teacher assessment is subjective, and considerably LESS "fair" than exams.

At least exams are the same for everyone. And yes, part of exams is the ability to perform on-the-day, under pressure, but then so are most of the jobs that education is supposed to be preparing them for.

Gryff

UncleEbenezer
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355477

Postby UncleEbenezer » November 11th, 2020, 11:04 am

When I heard this story on t'wireless, there was someone speaking for TPTB in Wales saying there would indeed be external assessment, presumably by someone comparably independent to an exam board.

This argument is nothing new. In my day (end of the '70s) it was exam grades that counted, but TPTB were talking of changing that to include an element of coursework in the assessment. All part of the Agenda of improving girls' results relative to boys - on the grounds that girls tend to perform better in coursework than in exams. Just a few years later - sometime in the 1980s - came the overhaul that made coursework count towards exams. It had the desired effect: girls results overtook the boys, and have been ahead ever since.

As for teachers doing it themselves, doesn't that just reward the pupils whose parents can best intimidate the teachers?

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355482

Postby martinc » November 11th, 2020, 11:23 am

They interviewed a group of students from a sixth-form college on Newsnight last night. They asked them for a show of hands if they wanted to do exams next year, every single one wanted to sit the exams.

tjh290633
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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355548

Postby tjh290633 » November 11th, 2020, 2:32 pm

This will surely lead to entrance examinations for university courses, exemptions from which will depend on having taken appropriate external exams. Some may remember having London Matriculation Exemption on the basis of their School Certificate results. I might add that very few of today's feather bedded school children would qualify with their GCSE results.

TJH

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355600

Postby didds » November 11th, 2020, 4:51 pm

kiloran wrote:And, let's face it, even exams are not perfect. They are perhaps more a test of memory and nerve rather than a true test of ability and intelligence.



... and may just be affected by non academic/subject issues... health, bad news etc etc.
didds

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355620

Postby stevensfo » November 11th, 2020, 5:31 pm

didds wrote:
kiloran wrote:And, let's face it, even exams are not perfect. They are perhaps more a test of memory and nerve rather than a true test of ability and intelligence.



... and may just be affected by non academic/subject issues... health, bad news etc etc.
didds


Well, when I did my O-levels and A-levels in the 70s, I was very shy, introvert and nervous. We had mock exams, which funnily enough, although good preparation, the results were always very different to the real exams. I also suffered from terrible hayfever which was made worse by light striking the eye at a certain angle. I have no idea how this works, but it did, and since the exams were held in the gym, with huge windows, I remember it well.

What was really good was the chance to re-take the exams again in the autumn. I had to re-take Latin and passed with flying colours, though that was due to me memorising the whole of Virgil Chapter II, rather than any real talent. ;)

The impression I have from those years is that everyone had two chances to show what they could do. If they failed their O-levels a second time, then they went into the sixth form and repeated them. Added to that, there were students who ended up spending about four years in the sixth form, but got there eventually. From what I hear from my relatives in the UK, this would be impossible today.

Steve

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355638

Postby scotia » November 11th, 2020, 6:04 pm

stevensfo wrote:. I had to re-take Latin and passed with flying colours, though that was due to me memorising the whole of Virgil Chapter II, rather than any real talent. ;)

Not everyone has required to display such determination. Winston Churchill wrote about his Harrow entrance exam:-
"I was found unable to answer a single question in the Latin paper." And he added "The Headmaster, Mr. Welldon, however, took a broad minded view of my Latin prose" I.E. the headmaster deemed he had passed the entrance examination. Possibly a teacher assessed qualification?

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355654

Postby kempiejon » November 11th, 2020, 6:45 pm

stevensfo wrote: If they failed their O-levels a second time, then they went into the sixth form and repeated them. Added to that, there were students who ended up spending about four years in the sixth form, but got there eventually. From what I hear from my relatives in the UK, this would be impossible today.

Steve


At my place we've 'ad kids on 5 or 6 takes at GCSE English and Math but they do get 'em.

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355672

Postby didds » November 11th, 2020, 8:20 pm

stevensfo wrote: From what I hear from my relatives in the UK, this would be impossible today.

Steve


dunno about GCSEs - and from a limted persepctive, it may well depend on the county you live in anyway. Here in Wiltshire the only A-Level provision a few years ago was via 6th form at a school, or one college in swindon. Ive no idea what post 16 provision there is for GCSE resits/atttempts etc. I do know that it was possible top resit A-levels for a year - or maybe that was just one 6th form college?

things may well have changed in the past few years as well of course. But Id be very surp[rised if there was no chance at all to resit stuff - thougvh the opptions may be limited and dependent on distance amnd transport etc

didds

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355683

Postby Moosehoosenew » November 11th, 2020, 9:20 pm

Some might say the ability to peak and perform is quite important.

Others might say, teachers may display conscious or otherwise judgement on continous assesment.

But is fair to see that the late workers, chancers and peakers are not best served by this idea.

From parent of both styles of pupil, equally bright (honest) nothing to do with me.

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355687

Postby JohnB » November 11th, 2020, 9:46 pm

For university admissions, exam results are useful, as they give a good guide to the sausage factory that leads to qualifications at the end.

For employers, exam results are pretty useless. While they might want to see how someone performs under stress, just knowing lots of facts is pointless in the days of the internet, and jobs require long term application and social skills which aren't assessed. Now teachers could assess those things, and write a quite accurate report on how well their pupils might do at different jobs, but that's not what they are being asked to do.

I don't think teachers inflate grades because they are optimists, but because they know they need to to game a system that will pull the grades down again before they are awarded. And if both pupils and teachers get rewarded for higher grades, where is the incentive to keep them low.

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355703

Postby tjh290633 » November 11th, 2020, 11:28 pm

stevensfo wrote:What was really good was the chance to re-take the exams again in the autumn. I had to re-take Latin and passed with flying colours, though that was due to me memorising the whole of Virgil Chapter II, rather than any real talent. ;)

The impression I have from those years is that everyone had two chances to show what they could do. If they failed their O-levels a second time, then they went into the sixth form and repeated them. Added to that, there were students who ended up spending about four years in the sixth form, but got there eventually. From what I hear from my relatives in the UK, this would be impossible today.

Steve

Back in the days of School Certificate, you had to get your certificate in a single sitting, taking a maximum of 8 subjects, which had to include English Language, Mathematics and a foreign Language. 5 Credits were required for Matriculation Exemption. Having got your Certificate you could then take further single exams if you wished. At that time a Credit in Latin was required if you wished to go to Oxford or Cambridge. I only got a Pass in Latin at the first attempt and re-sat in December, getting the required Credit. If you wished you could also take any subjects which you had been obliged to leave aside, because of the 8 subject limit. At our school there was an early choice between Classic and Science, the Classicists taking Greek, and in the fourth form the choice between History and Geography had to be made. I dropped English Literature and Divinity, later taking English Literature as Subsidiary Higher School Certificate and again at Alternative Ordinary Level in 1951 when the change to O and A levels arrived.

TJH

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Re: Teacher assessed qualifications

#355704

Postby vrdiver » November 11th, 2020, 11:38 pm

JohnB wrote:For employers, exam results are pretty useless

I beg to differ. Having recruited individuals of varying exam prowess, my experience was that those who took the hard studies and sat the hard boards were a damn site better than those who didn't. We paid attention to which board a student sat; an O level in Greek from the Yorkshire board wasn't accorded quite the respect that other boards merited!

When a candidate presented with, say, 11 O levels, if they were from multiple boards, we tended to look at them, as often it was fairly obvious the school was gaming the system to inflate grades. That's OK for a general CV, but when filtering two candidates, if one of them had a raft of "hard board" qualifications, that promoted them above an apparently equivalent candidate with mixed board results.

The policy was based on experience of recruiting underperforming graduates (yes, O levels were reviewed for graduate intake).


JohnB wrote:While they might want to see how someone performs under stress, just knowing lots of facts is pointless in the days of the internet

It's not the facts, it's the application of the facts, under pressure, that matters.

Any fool can google a subject and appear wise; what employers want is somebody who can think on their feet, and is armed with the ability to retain knowledge and apply it. An exam tests the ability to retain knowledge and selectively apply it whilst under pressure.

Don't you remember your teacher saying "don't just write down everything you know - answer the question!" ?

I do agree with you that teachers don't inflate grades just because they are optimists. A good teacher will recognise the potential of a student, but has no idea if the student will realise their potential on the day... And of course, there may be a bit of system gaming going on, but that won't happen now they've been told their verdict counts, will it?

VRD


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