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Friday 14 August 2020

A-Levels - Stupid Boy Clueless

The Westminster Government is presided over by alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson; his Education Secretary is former fireplace salesman Gavin “stupid boy” Williamson. Their opposite numbers in Scotland are Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney. And this year’s round of exam results have provided a superb opportunity to compare one administration’s credibility to that of the other.

The image he wants to project ...

As the BBC has reported, Scotland went first, and got it wrong first: “With no exams sat this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) ran a system based on teacher assessments. However, officials then applied a moderation technique which led to about 125,000 estimates being downgraded”. There was more.

There was particular criticism after Higher [Scottish equivalent of an ‘A’ Level] pass rates for pupils in the most deprived data zones were reduced by 15.2%, in comparison with 6.9% for pupils from the most affluent backgrounds … Ms Sturgeon said young people in more deprived areas might be concluding that ‘the system is stacked against them’, and that she was ‘not prepared to have that outcome’”. There was a U-Turn.

Swinney said sorry. Ms Sturgeon said sorry. They admitted they got it wrong. Fast forward to this week, andThere is anger among schools, colleges and students, after nearly 40% of A-level grades awarded on Thursday were lower than teachers' predictions … School and college leaders are calling for a review and say all fees for appeals should be waived”.

Also, there was the impression given that those privately educated had done a little too well as a result of the system used to calculate grades: “For the top A* and A grades, independent schools in England saw the greatest improvement on last year - up 4.7 percentage points. This compares with a 1.7, 2 and 0.3 percentage points improvement for top grades for England's academies, comprehensives and colleges respectively”.

Cue Bozo The Clown, telling those disappointed that they could take a re-sit this autumn - by which time it will be too late - and claiming “I think overall we've got a very robust set of grades”. But it is already clear that the algorithm used to calculate grades will work against the best-performing students, as Sunder Katwala has observed (thread HERE).

I think A-level algorithm by design makes it impossible for any individual student to get A* grade if attend institution where predecessor students 2017-19 did not score A*. Being best student in subject for 4 years ruled out by design.Just get average grade of top 2017-19 pupils”. And Dan Davies figured out why private schools might benefit.

... versus the image that others see

As you can see from the example you gave a few tweets ago, because of this rounding convention the model will actually give out too few of the top grades. They get filled out by the small (private) schools who don't use the model and Ofqual didn't notice”. Williamson, though, “has ruled out following the example of Scotland which on Tuesday scrapped the results produced by its statistical model and said it would use teacher assessments to replace the exams cancelled during the coronavirus lockdown”.

So now the calls for him to go are reaching a crescendo. But even though the Private Pike of the Tory Party is out of his depth, the iron rule handed down by chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings means he won’t resign. Because they just don’t care.

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Anonymous said...

"...they just don't care" is an accurate summary of toryism and New Labourism. Which is why even million-member protest marches have virtually no impact - because they're simply ignored.

Which is why direct action becomes inevitable if there is no change. And who could hope for change with the Starmer Quiff Gang and its ageing Bliarite/Kinnockite quislings as "opposition"?

Small wonder even John Kennedy was moved to warn, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

Whether it's tomorrow or decades hence there will come a point where the many say "Enough is enough" and the few find themselves answerable.

Bob said...

This all goes back to Gove...
Education expert cautions Michael Gove over heavy reliance on exams. An American scientist cited by Michael Gove as the intellectual inspiration for his shift towards a more exacting exams regime has warned that excessive reliance on tests can hamper children's education through a focus on narrow, rote learning.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Two stories:

Yorkshire's independent schools and grammars celebrate A-level results success
Thats's the Yorkshire Evening Post, yesterday.

Were A-levels fair? Why teachers and pupils are calling 2020 exam grades 'unfair' as almost 40% of marks downgraded
That's the Yorkshire Post, this morning's edition.

Anonymous said...

The A-level fiasco exposed the Tory plan of class entrenchment. High grades and a guaranteed placed at a top university for the wealthy, low grades and an uncertain future for everyone else. This is what the cap-doffing gammon voted for.