World Standards in Education: In the news recently is somewhat of a British story, where teenagers for many years running have achieved record levels of GCSE passes, which year on year provoked fresh accusations of dumbing down standards. The results which came out this month, shows record improvement in exam passes, a “bumper crop” of pupils being rewarded the A* grade, yet seen by the pessimist as way below standards of previous years.
The reports showed that more than two-thirds of GCSE exam papers received at least a grade C, while a fifth scored A or A*. Of the 750,000 students who received exam results, the celebration was overshadowed by the ever-growing vociferous reverberation of exams not meeting the needs of the marketplace and lower than the principles of the previously used O/Level exam standards.
World Standards in Education
Many leading schools and business executives have jumped on the very mobile bandwagon to denounce the exams and college essay writing as being far too easy. One leading expert in exam standards hails from Buckingham University Professor Alan Smithers remarked, “The A* has really become what the A grade was 20 years ago in terms of telling people apart”.
The fears that the record in improvement passes has sparked are reverberating in government and wider political circles and have ignited loud calls for a rethink on the way we teach. With the opposition parties accusing the government of failure in educational policies, thus presiding over a sinking ship of educational standards, and failing the future generations to come. The bottom line for many is that the exams are not tough enough to prepare teenagers for future challenges in education and for the workplace.
Complex and expensive
Sir Mike Tomlinson a former chief inspector of schools entered the debate by saying that the GCSE exams, “complex and expensive” to administer indicating that the formula may have outlived its usefulness. But government minister responsible for schools, Vernon Coaker hits back, by claiming that the exams are accepted by examination boards accredited by them.
He said, “They’re looked after by the office for qualifications, and that all of those people ensure standards are maintained”, adding this should be a time for “celebrating results”. If we keep up the pressure on kids this way, accusing the system of not mentally challenging for the kids, we will have a country soon with stressed and worn-out teenagers. With all the pressure associated with growing into adulthood, teenagers should not have to face another coming from leading politicians and some of the highest institutions in the land.
Whatever the pros and cons of the issue, the fact most commentators are overlooking is that here there are children’s lives involved. What these kids must be going through knowing they put in their efforts to get what they need, but only to be told each year they are not good enough, it must be depressing. The kids should not be held accountable, if anything is wrong it’s the fault of the system, so don’t blame them for the authorities and school failures.
Remember that the kids can only sit what is set before them, and if they achieve stupendous straight A’s or A* results applaud them for giving their best, don’t keep on knocking the students for not reaching a standard you have not prepared for them. The set standards are what the students have to be judged by not by someone else’s speculative hopeful or imaginary milestones that we often set in our minds.
There are some people who will never be satisfied with anything whatever. If the pass rate were below 50% there would be a growing unease and call for educational heads to the role and for the government minister in charge to resign. That Britain is falling behind the rest of the developed world in educational accomplishment because education is not given priority.
These days the pass rate is in the eighties and nineties, and it is seen as too easy, students are not being tested enough, it is too weak, some people just cannot be pleased. With all the doomsday proclamation for falling standards, those prophets have not given a figure as to where passes should be to be considered adequate. So, if there is a fault with the GCSE program fix it. If there is a fault in the teaching methods change it or put teachers in our schools and colleges who understand both programs and methods and can use them to bring out the best in our students.
I think it is full time the students get a break from the constant criticisms of not meeting the standards capable of acceptance at the chosen university. I think they are just about fed up that each year they try their best, sit and pass brilliantly what is set before them only to hear, it was too easy. The time has come for us to seriously reflect on what we are doing to our youngsters.