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A-levels are so easy a monkey could be trained to do them, say teachers


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A-levels are so easy a monkey could be trained to do them, say teachers

 

By Laura Clark

Last updated at 9:45 AM on 17th August 2009

 

 

A-levels have become so straightforward that a monkey could be trained to answer the questions, teachers claim.

 

A survey found no teachers believe the rise in A grades is down to more able students and only 4 per cent say the reason is better teaching.

 

In the poll for the think-tank Civitas, 150 A-level teachers were interviewed this summer.

 

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Monkey business: Teachers surveyed said A-levels were 'Mickey Mouse' stuff

 

Their consensus, said Civitas, was that the system allows the same calibre of students to achieve higher grades.

 

 

 

A director of A-levels from a school in the North West said: 'The A-level is not aimed at the same people as it was 30 years ago; a larger cohort must have easier exams or too many would fail.

 

'You could train a monkey to do the questions today!'

 

The head of a sixth-form in the East Midlands said: 'This is Mickey Mouse stuff - what they learn at A-level today is not sufficient for GCSE.'

 

One teacher explained: 'Very explicit guidance is given to students about what will be in the exams.'

 

How top A-level grades are being inflated by resits

 

 

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If at first you don't succeed: Most exam candidates do better on their second attempt (Picture posed by model)

 

A-level grades are being vastly inflated because so many pupils are resitting exams, a testing expert has warned.

 

The proportion of exams awarded As would drop from a quarter to a fifth if resits were banned, according to Lord Sutherland, who led an inquiry into the SATs marking crisis.

 

He demanded strict rules on retaking and for A-level certificates to state whether resits were needed.

 

On Thursday 350,000 A-level candidates will receive their results and pass rates are expected to rise again.

 

The proportion achieving three straight As has doubled under Labour to 12.1 per cent and could edge towards 13 per cent this week.

 

Lord Sutherland, chairman of the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors, with an A* grade. But Lord

 

which represents examiners, warned that 'unfair' rules on resits risked damaging the credibility of A-levels.

 

He also suggested next year's reforms to A-levels do not go far enough.

 

From next summer, pupils answering more stretching questions will be rewarded

 

Sutherland said A-levels should once again require candidates to write a two to three-hour essay.

 

Under Labour's shake-up in 2000, A-levels were split into six separately tested modules.

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The three so- called AS units taken in the first year of courses are easier than the three A2s studied in the second. But they carry the same weight in marks.

 

Pupils can retake units an unlimited number of times and tens of thousands do so each year. Lord Sutherland said

 

research by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which oversees exam boards, showed some students were taking units up to six times.

 

The report said most candidates did better on their second attempt.

 

If resitting were banned just over a fifth of exams would be given an A - compared with a quarter now.

 

'There should be much clearer and firmer rules about resitting,' Lord Sutherland said.

 

'It does seem unfair to the pupils taking exams without resits. Maybe they got a B and if their school had pushed them they would have got an A. So much seems to hang on resits.'

 

He said pupils should only be able to take resits in limited circumstances - for example, if they were ill on the day of the exam.

 

The improvement in grades was more marked in some subjects, such as modern languages, than others, he added.

 

There was also evidence that resitting practices varied across schools.

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'If you go to a school that knows how to play all the angles, that's bound to help,' Lord Sutherland said.

 

Commenting on the new A* grade, he said: 'The bringing in of an A* is an indication of the fact that A does not discriminate at the top end as it did before.

 

'There are pupils whose quality is not being recognised because of the way in which grades are being awarded.'

 

But he stressed: 'When people comment on this it's thought there is a criticism of pupils, that they are not as good as they think they are. But it's not pupils who design and run the system.

 

'If there is a flaw in the system, it is because of us. We impose the system and pupils respond.'

 

Asked whether good grades had become easier to come by, he replied: 'No comment.'

 

Exams officials pointed out the introduction of AS-levels had led to pupils becoming 'focused from the outset of their A-level course', leading to improved performance.

 

Schools Minister Vernon Coaker insisted there were 'very low' levels of AS resits.

 

'There is nothing wrong with having a second chance to do an exam of exactly the same standard - and students' achievement is no less valid,' he said.

 

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'Monkeys could take A-levels' claim

 

(UKPA) – 1 hour ago

 

A monkey could be trained to sit today's "Mickey Mouse" A-level questions, according to a survey of teachers.

 

The study by the social policy think tank Civitas also found that modular courses and resits are responsible for the rise in top A-level grades.

 

The A-level system allows today's students to get better results than they would have in the past, because they have more opportunities to succeed, teachers claim.

 

One director of A-levels, based in the North West, told researchers: "You could train a monkey to do the questions today."

 

Another head of sixth-form from the East Midlands said: "This is Mickey Mouse stuff - what they learn at A-level today is not sufficient for GCSE. The system is an absolute shambles. The standard of the candidates is very low - it's a national disgrace."

 

The survey is published just days before teenagers across the country receive their A-level results.

 

Last year, more than one in four grades (25.9%) were A grades, and that figure is expected to top 26% this summer.

 

The Civitas study, based on responses from 150 A-level teachers, found that not one thought that the rise in A grades was due to students being brighter.

 

More than four in 10 (43%) thought the reason for more top grades was that students are more informed about what will be in the exams.

 

Modular courses means students are tested at the end of each "bitesize" section

 

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I don't know where teachers find the time in their 13 weeks paid holiday per year to trouble themselves with things like this, I really don't. When they finish work at 3, they should leave their woes behind them for the day.

 

 

Did a teacher rape you and murder your mother? :icon_lol:

Edited by Fop
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I don't know where teachers find the time in their 13 weeks paid holiday per year to trouble themselves with things like this, I really don't. When they finish work at 3, they should leave their woes behind them for the day.

 

 

Did a teacher rape you and murder your mother? :icon_lol:

 

uproarious stuff, fop.

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I don't know where teachers find the time in their 13 weeks paid holiday per year to trouble themselves with things like this, I really don't. When they finish work at 3, they should leave their woes behind them for the day.

 

 

I dont know ANY teachers that finish work at 3. most in by 8am and are still marking course work after 9pm. i should know cos i married one!!

 

oh, and i totally agree that exams are much easier than they were 20/30yrs ago. dont know if you could train a monkey to pass them tho. would have to be one CLEVER fookin monkey!!! :icon_lol:

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I don't know where teachers find the time in their 13 weeks paid holiday per year to trouble themselves with things like this, I really don't. When they finish work at 3, they should leave their woes behind them for the day.

 

 

I dont know ANY teachers that finish work at 3. most in by 8am and are still marking course work after 9pm. i should know cos i married one!!

 

 

The honeymoon is clearly over if she's trying to peddle that excuse. :icon_lol:

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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

 

What's the position now with resits though? It used to be you could only resit once every 6 months, and this entailed repeating everything, all in written-exam format. Now I get the impression you can resit individual aspects or course work, just to improve your grade? Surely that's not right, you can't do that in your final year of your degree, can you?

 

Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

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I don't know where teachers find the time in their 13 weeks paid holiday per year to trouble themselves with things like this, I really don't. When they finish work at 3, they should leave their woes behind them for the day.

 

 

Did a teacher rape you and murder your mother? :icon_lol:

 

uproarious stuff, fop.

 

Why else would you hate teachers so much? :)

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Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

 

 

Blair is turning in his jacuzzi, and Brown has taken an emergency phone-call about this very thread, as you speak. :icon_lol:

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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

 

What's the position now with resits though? It used to be you could only resit once every 6 months, and this entailed repeating everything, all in written-exam format. Now I get the impression you can resit individual aspects or course work, just to improve your grade? Surely that's not right, you can't do that in your final year of your degree, can you?

 

Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

 

All they've done is move the bell right along the x-axis. C used to be the average grade so the majority got a low pass while the outliers were either excellent (A), or not (E or worse).

 

Now the average grade is a B, A* is excellent and D or worse is shit.

 

The way it should work is that the grades are set once all the papers have been scored, in order to retain the old school A-E grades which are, after all, arbitrary. But the government have moved every pupil up a grade just so they can say they've improved schools.

 

I don't see why this precludes university's from distinguishing between the top performers or highlights any drop in standards other than from a government addicted to the numbers game.

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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

 

What's the position now with resits though? It used to be you could only resit once every 6 months, and this entailed repeating everything, all in written-exam format. Now I get the impression you can resit individual aspects or course work, just to improve your grade? Surely that's not right, you can't do that in your final year of your degree, can you?

 

Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

 

All they've done is move the bell right along the x-axis. C used to be the average grade so the majority got a low pass while the outliers were either excellent (A), or not (E or worse).

 

Now the average grade is a B, A* is excellent and D or worse is shit.

 

The way it should work is that the grades are set once all the papers have been scored, in order to retain the old school A-E grades which are, after all, arbitrary. But the government have moved every pupil up a grade just so they can say they've improved schools.

 

I don't see why this precludes university's from distinguishing between the top performers or highlights any drop in standards other than from a government addicted to the numbers game.

 

Because of top end grade pile up. C could do better.

Edited by Fop
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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

 

What's the position now with resits though? It used to be you could only resit once every 6 months, and this entailed repeating everything, all in written-exam format. Now I get the impression you can resit individual aspects or course work, just to improve your grade? Surely that's not right, you can't do that in your final year of your degree, can you?

 

Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

 

All they've done is move the bell right along the x-axis. C used to be the average grade so the majority got a low pass while the outliers were either excellent (A), or not (E or worse).

 

Now the average grade is a B, A* is excellent and D or worse is shit.

 

The way it should work is that the grades are set once all the papers have been scored, in order to retain the old school A-E grades which are, after all, arbitrary. But the government have moved every pupil up a grade just so they can say they've improved schools.

 

I don't see why this precludes university's from distinguishing between the top performers or highlights any drop in standards other than from a government addicted to the numbers game.

 

Because of top end grade pile up. C could do better.

 

Grades have been awarded on marks rather than on proportion of candidates for 25 years now. So I don't think that's a new problem. Though I can see it would only get worse with time.

 

Changing the existing percentiles might sort it, but only temporarily (like A*). I can't fathom why they went this route in the first place. Like Renton says, you have to be graded in comparison to your peers sitting the same exam.

Edited by Happy Face
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Civitas

 

The think tank was responsible for setting up a 'New Model School' in Brent, London, a fee-paying school intended to be more affordable than standard private schools. The school is described as "firmly grounded in Christian values and ideals", but accepts pupils of other faiths or none.

 

Who'd have thought they'd bash state education, when they provide private fee-paying schooling. :icon_lol:

 

A monkey can be trained to answer ANY question. They trained one to fly rocket ships.

 

Ban resits...are they for real? While we're at it lets limit people to a single driving test. If at first you don't succeed, give up, you're fucking thick.

 

What's the position now with resits though? It used to be you could only resit once every 6 months, and this entailed repeating everything, all in written-exam format. Now I get the impression you can resit individual aspects or course work, just to improve your grade? Surely that's not right, you can't do that in your final year of your degree, can you?

 

Somehow this grade inflation has to stop. It's simple really, test students against their peers rather than lower the bar or make exams easier, year in, year out. It's not about criticising students, it's just common sense. Either that or in 30 years we'll be having students achieving 10 A***s at A level, what does that achieve?

 

All they've done is move the bell right along the x-axis. C used to be the average grade so the majority got a low pass while the outliers were either excellent (A), or not (E or worse).

 

Now the average grade is a B, A* is excellent and D or worse is shit.

 

The way it should work is that the grades are set once all the papers have been scored, in order to retain the old school A-E grades which are, after all, arbitrary. But the government have moved every pupil up a grade just so they can say they've improved schools.

 

I don't see why this precludes university's from distinguishing between the top performers or highlights any drop in standards other than from a government addicted to the numbers game.

 

Because of top end grade pile up. C could do better.

 

Grades have been awarded on marks rather than on proportion of candidates for 25 years now. So I don't think that's a new problem. Though I can see it would only get worse with time.

 

Changing the existing percentiles might sort it, but only temporarily. I can't fathom why they went this route in the first place. Like Renton says, you have to be graded in comparison to your peers sitting the same exam.

 

 

They used to do special papers to test and stretch the top end students out, not sure but Fop thinks they got rid of them some years ago, although they might be back again now.

 

But like Fop said it's all about top end grade pile up, the more grades inflate and pile up without a new "grade" (the reason the brought in A* in the first place and the reason they are thinking about A**) the harder it is to separate out those within that top grade.

 

It's the fundamental flaw of a "Deferred success/Deficiency achievement" system.

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