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Exam Grades

Seeing as the topic is running on multiple threads, thought I’d create a new one.
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  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,717
    edited August 2020
    My bugbear is this.

    I have built quite a few data models over the years and completely accept that any assumption based model is going to have some flaws.

    However, when you run your model and identify the deviations in some students and institutions that are huge, it is obvious there is a fundamental lack of finesse in your model so you refine it.

    This is not massively complex data modelling and you have had the data for months. It is simply inexcusable for it to be so poor.

    Grade inflation. The ongoing debate.

    Are kids brighter today? Not really.
    Is teaching better today? On the whole I think aspects of it are.
    Are schools more effective at achieving exam results. 100% yes as that is how they are measured.
    Does this make a better education. Not necessarily, it makes a narrowly focussed education that is particularly ill suited to those with less academic abilities.
  • Why did they not do this months ago? Is there a good reason why they kept exam results day the same?
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,640
    Just copying this across from the other thread.

    Expecting a u turn on the exams.

    Hopefully before GCSEs....

    What does anybody think the solution should look like?

    First you would need to decide what you wanted the solution to look like in normal circumstances. If you just want a return to the status quo - a mixture of places awarded on ability and the need for universities to get bums on seats - then you just need the next best way to assess ability for a given course. In the absence of real grades, adjusting the CAGs to meet some national preconceived pattern seems to add no useful information for universities. I think reverting to the unmoderated CAGs for a year with, on the face of it, a bit of grade inflation is very much the lesser evil.

    If I was designing the system myself I would introduce a foundation year for all university courses (as already exists for art and design courses), with final choice of degree (or something else) made after that.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,717

    Why did they not do this months ago? Is there a good reason why they kept exam results day the same?

    That is something I had wondered about from the start. Even if they hadn’t messed up the modelling, I see no reason why they couldn’t have released the grades earlier to allow everybody more time to deal with a unique uni intake year.
  • kingstongrahamkingstongraham Posts: 13,156
    And from the other thread as well. Nobody had "a bad day" on exam day this year. You should expect average grade inflation this year.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 8,670
    Your last paragraph I wholeheartedly agree with. Teachers are target based teaching on very narrow areas of a subject. The information available for teachers and students is infinitely more available with modern technology compared to 40 yrs ago and looking at books for information. I've noticed over the last 20yrs that engineering apprentices come into industry with very little idea of whats involved because they have been given a very narrow view of industry. They are taught the bare minimum to function within the chosen industry, which is the same kind of methodology as education. The best educated and trained tend to be the ones that have a good around overview and some specialisms along with proper hands on experience. This means when we get students with a narrow focus of educational attainment or apprentice/ newly qualified engineers in the same position we are diluting the ability and skills pool. Seems to be a UK thing I think, I deal with American, German, Italian, Dutch, Spanish engineers amongst others and their younger engineers are just as capable as the older guys. Sorry for the rant morstar.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,640
    edited August 2020

    rjsterry said:

    john80 said:

    I have never understood why we allowed grade inflation as it devalues the exams. If you took the stats from 20 years ago and essentially mirrore the percentage for each grade by manipulating the yearly grade percentage this woukd be a better system. If 60% makes the right number get the top mark then the exam is too easy. If 98% gets you the top grade tbe exam is too hard. This obviously assumes that you want to differentiate the bright worthy of further education to the dim that should go into the world of work and not give everyone a feel good factor of higher grades.

    If all you were aiming to do with grades was rank the 660,000 students in order of ability to sit exams then that would work. However, the grades are also used to assess the performance of schools and individual teachers. If we accept that some schools need to improve then under the zero inflation model, others will appear to get worse as their students are bumped down the ranking. On top of this, if grades are primarily based on final exams, then the teaching will inevitably tend towards the skill of passing a 3 hour written exam at the expense of other knowledge and skills. As an employer, I'm not sure great exam technique is a useful transferable skill.

    Ofqual suspended their appeal criteria overnight, pending a review, so now nobody knows where they stand and a repeat is incoming with the GCSE grades.
    Attempting to judge a standard fails far more in my view. My professional qualification does this and pass rates have changed from 35% to 70% and back again. All based on a few people's views of what a candidate should know. It's unlikely to my mind that the quality of candidates varies that much between years.
    If we accept teaching can improve and that that has an impact on the attainment of the students, then even assuming identical students each year, you would expect results to improve over successive years, with perhaps some form of plateau. Inevitably the syllabus will evolve over time as well so beyond, say, 10 years, results are not going to be directly comparable anyway. I am not convinced comparison between years is that useful.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • morstar said:

    My bugbear is this.

    I have built quite a few data models over the years and completely accept that any assumption based model is going to have some flaws.

    However, when you run your model and identify the deviations in some students and institutions that are huge, it is obvious there is a fundamental lack of finesse in your model so you refine it.

    This is not massively complex data modelling and you have had the data for months. It is simply inexcusable for it to be so poor.

    Grade inflation. The ongoing debate.

    Are kids brighter today? Not really.
    Is teaching better today? On the whole I think aspects of it are.
    Are schools more effective at achieving exam results. 100% yes as that is how they are measured.
    Does this make a better education. Not necessarily, it makes a narrowly focussed education that is particularly ill suited to those with less academic abilities.

    How would your model cope with the 25 schools where every teacher predicted every student an A* in every single subject?

    Apart from the stupid panic decision to cancel the exams, the problem is the teaching profession and their lack of professionalism, and it is the student that gets hurt by their unprofessionalism.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,640
    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,494
    Worth repeating that the research indicates teachers are much better at the relative judgement of pupils compared with their peers than the absolute judgement of actual grade.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,717
    edited August 2020

    morstar said:

    My bugbear is this.

    I have built quite a few data models over the years and completely accept that any assumption based model is going to have some flaws.

    However, when you run your model and identify the deviations in some students and institutions that are huge, it is obvious there is a fundamental lack of finesse in your model so you refine it.

    This is not massively complex data modelling and you have had the data for months. It is simply inexcusable for it to be so poor.

    Grade inflation. The ongoing debate.

    Are kids brighter today? Not really.
    Is teaching better today? On the whole I think aspects of it are.
    Are schools more effective at achieving exam results. 100% yes as that is how they are measured.
    Does this make a better education. Not necessarily, it makes a narrowly focussed education that is particularly ill suited to those with less academic abilities.

    How would your model cope with the 25 schools where every teacher predicted every student an A* in every single subject?

    Apart from the stupid panic decision to cancel the exams, the problem is the teaching profession and their lack of professionalism, and it is the student that gets hurt by their unprofessionalism.
    Statistical outliers are hardly a new phenomenon!

    You have two main statistical anomalies which you have to get to the bottom of.

    The one you have identified. Here’s the scenario, “these grades seem exceptionally high, I know, let’s have independent assessment of a sample so we can calibrate them”. You can then consider that in the model.

    You then run your model which creates its own statistical anomalies.
    “ Hang on, why does this institution or this student have a dramatic fall in grades”, you then adjust your model.

    I’m not arguing it would be perfect but they have literally months to do this.

    Every single data model I have ever built produces an overall acceptable outcome at a total level at first pass. You then look into the details and exceptions and realise that there are localised anomalies that make no sense. You then refine your model.
  • rjsterry said:

    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.

    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,640

    rjsterry said:

    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.

    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.
    Seeing as you have zero involvement with the teaching profession, how on earth would you know?
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • coopster_the_1stcoopster_the_1st Posts: 5,158
    edited August 2020
    morstar said:

    morstar said:

    My bugbear is this.

    I have built quite a few data models over the years and completely accept that any assumption based model is going to have some flaws.

    However, when you run your model and identify the deviations in some students and institutions that are huge, it is obvious there is a fundamental lack of finesse in your model so you refine it.

    This is not massively complex data modelling and you have had the data for months. It is simply inexcusable for it to be so poor.

    Grade inflation. The ongoing debate.

    Are kids brighter today? Not really.
    Is teaching better today? On the whole I think aspects of it are.
    Are schools more effective at achieving exam results. 100% yes as that is how they are measured.
    Does this make a better education. Not necessarily, it makes a narrowly focussed education that is particularly ill suited to those with less academic abilities.

    How would your model cope with the 25 schools where every teacher predicted every student an A* in every single subject?

    Apart from the stupid panic decision to cancel the exams, the problem is the teaching profession and their lack of professionalism, and it is the student that gets hurt by their unprofessionalism.
    Statistical outliers are hardly a new phenomenon!

    You have two main statistical anomalies which you have to get to the bottom of.

    The one you have identified. Here’s the scenario, “these grades seem exceptionally high, I know, let’s have independent assessment of a sample so we can calibrate them”. You can then consider that in the model.

    You then run your model which creates its own statistical anomalies.
    “ Hang on, why does this institution or this student have a dramatic fall in grades”, you then adjust your model.

    I’m not arguing it would be perfect but they have literally months to do this.

    Every single data model I have ever built produces an overall acceptable outcome at a total level at first pass. You then look into the details and exceptions and realise that there are localised anomalies that make no sense. You then refine your model.
    I don't disagree with you and your knowledge on how it should work.

    This work should have been outsourced to people who are highly skilled in this area, like yourself, but we all know that the politics of the Civil Service would never have allowed this to happen. The Civil Service is another profession that has been found lacking at the time when they should have stepped up.
  • rjsterry said:

    rjsterry said:

    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.

    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.
    Seeing as you have zero involvement with the teaching profession, how on earth would you know?
    Do you think the teaching profession has stepped up and shown themselves to be competent over the last 5 months?

    I can't think of one area where they have exceeded even low expectations.
  • johngtijohngti Posts: 904



    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.

    Sorry but speaking as a teacher, you can take a very long walk off a very short pier. Exactly what control do you think teachers have had over this process? The algorithm was designed and implemented by Ofqual. Yes, a few schools went overboard on predicted grades but the majority were very sensible. I spent many hours working with data for a big, core subject and our predictions were absolutely bang on. Ofqual ran the algorithm on 2019 data to test it and were 30% off on grades. Is that due to teachers’ lack of professionalism too?

    Just out of interest, what do you do for a living? Maybe you could take up teaching and show us all how it’s done?
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 51,817 Lives Here
    edited August 2020
    What is it with people who can’t accept education is probably better than it used to be, and it’s not all down to learning how to game the system better?

    It would really be weird if teaching wasn’t.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 51,817 Lives Here
    I do honestly think a more capable education minister would have had better decision making in this instance
  • veronese68veronese68 Posts: 23,236 Lives Here
    rjsterry said:

    rjsterry said:

    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.

    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.
    Seeing as you have zero involvement with the teaching profession, how on earth would you know?
    Knowing nothing doesn't normally stop him, teachers probably count as experts and we've had enough of them.
    I think most teachers and schools are significantly better now than they were in my day, of course some are not so good. This whole thing has been a shambles and the blame lies with the department for education and ofqual, not teachers. A few may have tried to play the system, it should be easy to work those ones out.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,494

    What is it with people who can’t accept education is probably better than it used to be, and it’s not all down to learning how to game the system better?

    It would really be weird if teaching wasn’t.

    A good undergraduate could understand Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. That wouldn't make them equal and deserving of the same recognition. Standards improve and people are measured against the improved standards.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 18,640
    edited August 2020

    rjsterry said:

    rjsterry said:

    You do come across as having a massive chip on your shoulder towards professions.

    Only ones that come across as incompetent and that is what the teaching profession have shown themselves to be since mid-March.

    There is a lot of truth in the statement "Those who can do. Those who can't teach" and the teaching profession have not disproved this over the last 5 months. Only a few days ago our resident IT teacher again demonstrated this point.

    Defending incompetence, like you are doing will not raise the standards.
    Seeing as you have zero involvement with the teaching profession, how on earth would you know?
    Do you think the teaching profession has stepped up and shown themselves to be competent over the last 5 months?

    I can't think of one area where they have exceeded even low expectations.
    Based on my experience of the teachers at my daughters' school, I'm pretty happy with how they handled it pretty well. They'd obviously prepared well for remote teaching, which was excellent, and when the oldest went back before the holidays that went very smoothly as well. The secondary school that the oldest will be starting in a couple of weeks have also been good. YMMV, but, notwithstanding that it's a sample of only two, I've no complaints really. Do you have any direct experience on which to base your opinion?
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,494
    The other thing about rising standards is that there is a danger it is not true. I know when I did my A-Levels that the exam was much easier than 15 years before. I know this because our teacher would make us do the harder older ones for practice.

    I also heard university lecturers complaining that they needed to teach more basic stuff because students hadn't learnt it in sixth form.

  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,582
    I spent two days at the Clearing hotline for my Uni... must have taken 150 phone calls or so and I probably made around 20 offers. Staggered by the number of students who received initial offers for AAA or AAB but achieved CCC or even Ds... and are looking into clearing.... that can't be possible and I suspect the all system of predicted grades is a bit fishy... which is annoying, as of course we hand out hundreds of conditional offers on the grounds that these kids have the potential to make the AAA grades, but clearly many don't
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 3,717

    The other thing about rising standards is that there is a danger it is not true. I know when I did my A-Levels that the exam was much easier than 15 years before. I know this because our teacher would make us do the harder older ones for practice.

    I also heard university lecturers complaining that they needed to teach more basic stuff because students hadn't learnt it in sixth form.

    There’s lots of things wrong with education. Despite A levels possibly getting easier, the chasm between GCSE and A level is enormous. That is a hard adjustment for many.
    Definitely my experience.
    The one size simply does not fit all.
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,582



    I also heard university lecturers complaining that they needed to teach more basic stuff because students hadn't learnt it in sixth form.

    Speaking for my subject only (Chemistry), I would rather have students with excellent maths, than students with an A-level in Chemistry.

    The problem with the A-level chemistry curriculum is that there isn't a lot in the way of understanding and students tend to treat it as if it was Geography or History, where they need to memorise a lot of facts. At University we don't care for facts, because you can Google them if you need to, we care for understanding and being able to solve problems and apply knowledge and think... they are just not used to do that, so their A-level knowledge of a bunch of facts is pretty much useless

  • johngtijohngti Posts: 904
    Speaking as a maths teacher, that’s really interesting. We do the IB diploma at my school, though, so everyone does maths although not to a-level standard
  • ugo.santaluciaugo.santalucia Posts: 25,582
    johngti said:

    Speaking as a maths teacher, that’s really interesting. We do the IB diploma at my school, though, so everyone does maths although not to a-level standard

    Obviously the above is my personal opinion, as a department we take students with A level Chemistry and Maths is not compulsory... but it is a marketing strategy, because students who want to do Chemistry tend to have an A level in it.

    We do take IB, 38 points or something
  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 11,494
    johngti said:

    Speaking as a maths teacher, that’s really interesting. We do the IB diploma at my school, though, so everyone does maths although not to a-level standard

    It's also true at a higher level e.g. easier to teach a maths graudate the basics of another science than to teach another graduate the required maths.

    I have sometimes wondered about teaching as a retirement job, but I'm put off because it seems like hardwork and I really don't think I would get on with all the rules.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 51,817 Lives Here

    .

    I also heard university lecturers complaining that they needed to teach more basic stuff because students hadn't learnt it in sixth form.

    So it is the opposite for my mother (lecturer at Cambridge)...
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 51,817 Lives Here
    edited August 2020
    In fact that line of argument annoys me even more as a) I grew up with lots of said lecturers and professors as family friends and none of them think this and b) said people are also often *advisors on setting exams for GCSE and A-Level*
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