Imagine if we had just one body setting examinations for 16 year olds in the UK. The government is constantly looking for ways to save money; printing costs alone would save millions. I don’t think parents and the public in general have any idea of the ludicrous work load put upon Examination Officers these days. At many schools it is a full time job! At many private schools children in the same class will be sitting different exams for the same qualification! Mistakes are often made because of the complexity of so many different papers for the same subjects. Results comparisons are meaningless and standardisation is virtually impossible.
We need ONE body setting the examinations for core subjects at 16 and EVERYBODY should sit identical examinations for each subject. This would save money, raise standards, avoid errors and make statistical comparison of results have some meaning.
With the examination season approaching I hazard a guess that we are in for another record year.
More top achieving students, more A*s (a conceptual nonsense) and more self praise by the government for higher standards in education.
Is any of this true? Better results could mean higher standards in the education system; teaching professionals do an excellent job under increasingly trying circumstances. But year in, year out? – I think not.
The truth is that examinations are easier; it’s as simple as that.
So perhaps it is a good time to reflect on what these examinations, indeed any examinations are for?
Surely the point of testing is exactly that – to test and see what level of attainment a particular candidate can achieve in a particular field in order to measure them against their pier group.
This can only be achieved by having examinations where achieving top marks is difficult.
Doing well or badly in an examination should not necessarily be a reflection of standards in general, it should simply be a statement of an individual’s personal abilities. If a particular candidate does not excel academically that should not be seen as failure. Not everybody will rise through the academic ranks; there is no disgrace in that. There are many other attributes and skills which can be harnessed in life.
If testing for commercial pilots was dumbed down so more people passed and took to the skies, would that be a cause for celebration? Would the aviation industry be benefiting?
Testing should be to discover ability, not to misguidedly pretend that everybody can achieve top marks.