So, why do we have exams?

A-level results day 2021: Latest as ‘almost half’ of grades could be A or A* amid concerns over grade inflation in year of teacher assessment

Because we can’t trust the teachers to discriminate…..

18 thoughts on “So, why do we have exams?”

  1. In many cases teachers won’t have a clue who their pupils are. Limited zoom, rare assignments, covid isolations, etc. In those circumstances it would be unfair to give them less than 100%.

  2. Exams are a weapon of the white patriarchy which discriminate against wimmin* and minorities’ cultural learning practices**, innit?

    * although identifying as male for the duration of the exam should solve this
    **well, not all minorities, Asians seem to be able to manage them well enough….

  3. Because we cannot trust 99+% of the teachers to provide an objective judgement on pupils that they like/dislike and – even if we could – the scores given by teacher A will not match those given by teacher B.
    This year, in particular, we see “Grade inflation” because most teachers distrust the teachers in other schools and inflate the grade for their preferred pupils in order to make a “fair” comparison with the over-rated pupils in the other schools.
    If half the pupils deserve ‘A’ or ‘A*’ then the exam has been set at far too low a level.
    Who is going to believe that tens of thousands of kids who couldn’t have got into Grammar School through the 11+ deserve ‘A’ level grades at ‘A’ level? One kid – late developer – sure; one hundred – stretching credibility, but just possible; one thousand – sorry, just NO; ten thousand – YMBJ

  4. Time to switch to a simple leaving certificate only, maybe with an attendance record. Leave it up to employers, unis to assess how good the little darlings are

  5. Since exam results are also objective ratings of the teachers’s competence, why should anyone be surprised that teachers hate them?
    And of course, will distort them to favour their own ‘performance’.
    In the Union. Can’t touch me.

  6. @Tim the Coder,

    You are right, perhaps to a degree that you can only imagine. In my University career I have seen the tricks that colleagues got up to in order to increase their own personal ratings, and how University ‘management’ imposes their own systems to cut out the ‘wasteful’ failures – all in the name of student interest of course, but equally, when combined with reduction in lectures, laboratory classes and fieldwork (as a particular discipline demands) simply rob the students of a good education and the staff of a degree of satisfaction.

    If you asked – and it doesn’t need to be nicely – I might spill the beans on some of the scams for you!

  7. Given the revolving door school farce of the last 16 months these are obviously bogus results.

    So Johnson can beam and say well done to the poor mugs he has blighted and hope nobody will notice another facet of his LD ruin of UK.

    Altho the fact that there will have been less Marxist brainwashing time might still help the kids a bit overall.

  8. jgh: it’s even worse than that. A ‘fair’ marking system would give markings on that many candidates sitting pretty closely on a bell curve. If you then divide the X axis equally into however many grades there are, the A and A* groupings should total no more than 10 or 15% I would have thought.

  9. I do recall at my rather lowly independent school in the late 70s that pupils who appeared to have brains the size of planets (in the year above me I think 11 pupils won scholarships to Oxbridge out of the 60 or so in the year) were occasionally allowed to take 4 ‘A’ levels (but 2 were invariably pure and applied maths or English Language and English Lit) and straight A grades at A level was still a rarity.

    Nowadays it seems every school produces a cohort of pupils each year taking 6 A levels and all of them get straight A**+++ grades.

    Presumably within the next 10 years every problem known to man will be solved by this extraordinary younger generation.

  10. “Why aren’t you doing anything about GlobaL WarminG!!!!”

    “You’re the ones with 50% of you with A/A* A levels, only 5% of us were that clever, *YOU* do it, you’ve clearly demonstrated you’re so much cleverer than we are”.

  11. I thought we had exams so every August the newspapers were able to print pictures of attractive young ladies celebrating their elebenty gazillion A**** exam results by all jumping into the air at the same time?

  12. @Excavator Man
    OK I’ll bite: tell us a story…

    I formed a very low opinion of teachers when visiting my son’s A-level school.
    They still teach the world is flat (“A thrown object describes a parabola”…etc). Tell Yuri Gagarin that. Or that planes fly ‘cos the top of the wings is bulged up. They repeat this, even after admitting to see a plane flying inverted. Doublethink. They cannot explain the evidence of their own eyes.

    In one lab, a “teacher” proudly showed 10 exam questions, given to the more exceptionally bright STEM students. Maths, Physics, Chemistry…I started solving them, in my head, having no trouble doing this despite many decades past since schooldays. His jaw hit the ground. “How?…”
    I’ve not dared visit my alma mater, because I fear similar disillusionment. My old school was bulldozed into a housing estate. Perhaps it showed up the adjacent school too many times…

    I formed a very low opinion of teachers, A-levels, and modern education. No wonder all the yoof believe in that Swedish Doom Goblin and her tooth fairies. They know no better.

  13. @Tim,

    Lecturer runs a ‘tutorial’ in the week before the exams. Many students are taking a holiday – after all, it’s revision time, and there’s only that one ‘tutorial’ to miss.

    Lecturer then runs through past exam questions, some of which are very similar to this year’s questions.

    Students in the exam recognise what the lecturer was getting at, but they still have a range of abilities, so their results form a bell-shaped curve. The ones who skipped the ‘tutorial’ have their own bell curve, but offset to a lower mean.

    Result: a double-humped histogram (which lecturer knows will never be plotted), because there are 2 populations. The average is raised, and a proportion of the attendees get the A grade. Dumbos still fail. Lecturer wears a smug grin at the exam board.

    Want another?

  14. @Excavator Man
    Oh yes please.

    One more from me.
    So, proud ‘teacher’ points to Periodic Table on the wall. “Everything in the universe is made of only those elements”.
    Me: “How interesting. So what is a neutron star made of then?”
    Teacher: “Ah….neutrons….”
    Me: “So which element is that then?”

  15. @ Andrew C
    I always thought there had been “grade inflation” dumbing down ‘A’ level standards under Wilson in the late 60s and 70s: none of us were allowed to take 4 ‘A’ levels in the early 60s. [Our Maths VI in the year ahead of me had a better than 50% rate for Oxbridge Scholarships/Exhibitions but the overall rate was much lower because most of the bright kids were encouraged to go into Medicine rather than Oxbridge (unless they were classicists).

    OTOH 11 scholarships out of 60 *was* pretty good – I don’t think that we should have come near to matching that even if Oxbridge had been deemed more attractive than teaching hospitals. We didn’t have any paranoid androids but the school *invented* reasons why we “couldn’t” do double maths physics and chemistry as I wanted.

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