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Educashun ain't wot it used to be...

Are things going to the dogs, or are today's teachers and pupils/students streets ahead of their predecessors?

Discuss...
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  • john80john80 Posts: 2,115
    They are genetically smarter and every person in education is a talented and hard working grafter. 😃
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,982 Lives Here
    edited 23 May
    john80 said:

    Well it depends what you mean by hard, right?

    Exam setters (from what I saw) spend endless hours making sure the paper is as difficult in all aspects as all the previous years

    Endless endless revisions, meetings about each question, the wording etc etc.

    But if you are being taught better and / or better prepared for the exam than previous students, is it easier?

    Probably. Does that mean it is of a lower standard. No.

    If you are only interested in comparisons to all other students you do not value the qualification itself

    You can do both. You can rigourously try to keep the same standard then you can have a percentage control as well. It is arguable that the exam setters have failed when anything more than an A was required as a grade. If your argument is that education is better or kids are smarter then why did the paper not get more difficult. It is an illogical argument.
    How do you measure against previous years?

    The grade shows a level of proficiency.

    If more people get a certain grade, more people have that level of proficiency.

    It’s important to be able to measure between years.

  • focuszing723focuszing723 Posts: 2,010
    edited 23 May
    The Internet has made everyone who uses it correctly more informed and knowledgeable. In the pass people had to learn from out dated books. The tech big hitters skipped an outdated education and decided to create and shape the future.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 6,238

    john80 said:

    Well it depends what you mean by hard, right?

    Exam setters (from what I saw) spend endless hours making sure the paper is as difficult in all aspects as all the previous years

    Endless endless revisions, meetings about each question, the wording etc etc.

    But if you are being taught better and / or better prepared for the exam than previous students, is it easier?

    Probably. Does that mean it is of a lower standard. No.

    If you are only interested in comparisons to all other students you do not value the qualification itself

    You can do both. You can rigourously try to keep the same standard then you can have a percentage control as well. It is arguable that the exam setters have failed when anything more than an A was required as a grade. If your argument is that education is better or kids are smarter then why did the paper not get more difficult. It is an illogical argument.
    How do you measure against previous years?

    The grade shows a level of proficiency.

    If more people get a certain grade, more people have that level of proficiency.

    It’s important to be able to measure between years.

    Don't you understand the distinction between raw data and the grades awarded?

    Also, the concept that anyone looks at a grade as an indication of how good someone is in absolute terms is just absurd, sorry. Grades are seen as a comparator to other students, and that is all. Grade inflation just makes that harder.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,982 Lives Here
    edited 23 May
    Ok you’re just ignoring my point

    That’s fine.

    How do you measure progress in exam ability over time if the level of understanding or quality of the answer changes every year?

    You can’t.

    An A this year and an A 5 years ago shows the shame level of ability in the paper.

    That’s why it’s important the standard stays the same.

    So if suddenly all students are averaging B and not C 5 years on that means more students are performing better in exams than they used to.

    Now, that’s helpful to know for all sorts of reasons.

    Exams aren’t just a zero sum game to plot you against everyone else who’s take the exam.

    That’s a very reductive approach and misses a lot of the point of exams.

    It is only inflation in that narrow context of plotting people against others. In the context of ability to do the exam (which is a proxy for education, right?) then it is not worth “less” as the standard is the same.

  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,833

    john80 said:

    Well it depends what you mean by hard, right?

    Exam setters (from what I saw) spend endless hours making sure the paper is as difficult in all aspects as all the previous years

    Endless endless revisions, meetings about each question, the wording etc etc.

    But if you are being taught better and / or better prepared for the exam than previous students, is it easier?

    Probably. Does that mean it is of a lower standard. No.

    If you are only interested in comparisons to all other students you do not value the qualification itself

    You can do both. You can rigourously try to keep the same standard then you can have a percentage control as well. It is arguable that the exam setters have failed when anything more than an A was required as a grade. If your argument is that education is better or kids are smarter then why did the paper not get more difficult. It is an illogical argument.
    How do you measure against previous years?

    The grade shows a level of proficiency.

    If more people get a certain grade, more people have that level of proficiency.

    It’s important to be able to measure between years.

    Don't you understand the distinction between raw data and the grades awarded?

    Also, the concept that anyone looks at a grade as an indication of how good someone is in absolute terms is just absurd, sorry. Grades are seen as a comparator to other students, and that is all. Grade inflation just makes that harder.

    The problem is that there are competing things that exams can be used for:

    1) to rank a cohort
    2) to quantify the quality of teaching/school leadership
    3) to assess whether educational changes are raising academic standards

    2 & 3 only work if the percentages of people achieving the different grades are allowed to change over time, but that makes 1 problematic if grades continually improve.

    Exam grades over time do not indicate a change in intelligence levels, merely the success (or not) of teachers and pupils at both meeting exam criteria, and 'gaming the system'. Though I suppose if we want to turn out lots of graduates who are skilled at passing exams and gaming the system (in cahoots with the exam system we have), then I guess that the past forty years can be deemed a great success. Maybe that's the way the world turns these days. What do I know?
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 15,296
    It's much of a muchness. The best will do well, the slackers will do poorly in the long game. Long game being where they end up in their 40s.
    Get the feeling this will turn into the generation game though.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
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  • john80john80 Posts: 2,115

    Ok you’re just ignoring my point

    That’s fine.

    How do you measure progress in exam ability over time if the level of understanding or quality of the answer changes every year?

    You can’t.

    An A this year and an A 5 years ago shows the shame level of ability in the paper.

    That’s why it’s important the standard stays the same.

    So if suddenly all students are averaging B and not C 5 years on that means more students are performing better in exams than they used to.

    Now, that’s helpful to know for all sorts of reasons.

    Exams aren’t just a zero sum game to plot you against everyone else who’s take the exam.

    That’s a very reductive approach and misses a lot of the point of exams.

    It is only inflation in that narrow context of plotting people against others. In the context of ability to do the exam (which is a proxy for education, right?) then it is not worth “less” as the standard is the same.

    People writing the exams should be able to judge the difficulty of the paper As it is there job and the they know what skills or knowledge they are testing for. Let's say the grade of the paper for an A was say 80% and over for the top ten percent of pupils then next year it is 70%. Either the paper is harder, kids have got less bright or teaching is worse. If you believe the first can be managed objectively it leaves you with the other two to explore in acting as a gauge for the quality of education.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 6,848

    Ok you’re just ignoring my point

    That’s fine.

    How do you measure progress in exam ability over time if the level of understanding or quality of the answer changes every year?

    You can’t.

    An A this year and an A 5 years ago shows the shame level of ability in the paper.

    That’s why it’s important the standard stays the same.

    So if suddenly all students are averaging B and not C 5 years on that means more students are performing better in exams than they used to.

    Now, that’s helpful to know for all sorts of reasons.

    Exams aren’t just a zero sum game to plot you against everyone else who’s take the exam.

    That’s a very reductive approach and misses a lot of the point of exams.

    It is only inflation in that narrow context of plotting people against others. In the context of ability to do the exam (which is a proxy for education, right?) then it is not worth “less” as the standard is the same.

    What you say could be true Rick but the reality imo is that higher grades are just easier to achieve now.

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  • ProssPross Posts: 27,140
    This all looks set to become the most tedious thread in Cake Stop history
  • shirley_bassoshirley_basso Posts: 4,443

    Ok you’re just ignoring my point

    That’s fine.

    How do you measure progress in exam ability over time if the level of understanding or quality of the answer changes every year?

    You can’t.

    An A this year and an A 5 years ago shows the shame level of ability in the paper.

    That’s why it’s important the standard stays the same.

    So if suddenly all students are averaging B and not C 5 years on that means more students are performing better in exams than they used to.

    Now, that’s helpful to know for all sorts of reasons.

    Exams aren’t just a zero sum game to plot you against everyone else who’s take the exam.

    That’s a very reductive approach and misses a lot of the point of exams.

    It is only inflation in that narrow context of plotting people against others. In the context of ability to do the exam (which is a proxy for education, right?) then it is not worth “less” as the standard is the same.

    What you say could be true Rick but the reality imo is that higher grades are just easier to achieve now.

    That's proven to be categorically untrue.

    Exams are harder now than ever.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 19,822

    pblakeney said:

    morstar said:

    john80 said:

    morstar said:

    Pross said:

    Also, I don't understand why exams can't take place this year.

    I think they were cacking themselves as the thought of a repeat of last year so made an early call.
    Yes, but I thought the lesson from last year was that they probably could have done exams, and all the alternatives were a mess.
    + kids missed months of classroom teaching which has impacted the majority. At what level do they set the exams to be fair?

    Same exam as always means a cohort resigned to lower grades as the content had not all been covered.

    A partial syllabus exam not possible as schools do not teach the curriculum in a fixed order.
    If X percent got an a you just make sure the same percentage do. Repeat all the way down the scale. It's not that hard.
    This isn’t how the exams work otherwise grade inflation wouldn’t be a thing.
    Also doesn’t tackle the partial syllabus issue.
    It's exactly how exams work. You get grade inflation because the Conservatives privatised the exam boards who compete for business. 20 odd years later they massively increased tuition fees at universities, leading to more competition for students and grade inflation.
    I mean, the kids may be getting better at passing the exams too, right?

    Teaching is supposed to get better over time.
    Maybe they are getting better at gaming the system.
    Teaching is irrelevant in that case.
    Sure. Goodhart’s law like I said.

    I do think people get surprisingly defensive at the idea the younger generation are probably better educated than they are.

    It’s GOT to be inflation.


    ...really?
    Do you think they are getting more able? Or that the exams are as hard?
    Both. Exam preparation and technique was barely taught when I was at school. There's now a lot more emphasis on it. They have also brought parts of the syllabus forward so Y7 are learning things that I learnt in Y8. English teaching has changed out of all recognition and there are things my 9-year old is learning that I have to go and look up.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
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  • john80john80 Posts: 2,115
    When I went to Uni for an engineering degree they spent the first year teaching us maths that used to be part of the higher syllabus. I therefore have a direct piece of evidence that a maths higher in Scotland has gotten easier to achieve as differentiation and integration were no longer part of the syllabus. Feel free to explain that away.
  • thistle_thistle_ Posts: 5,175
    john80 said:

    When I went to Uni for an engineering degree they spent the first year teaching us maths that used to be part of the higher syllabus. I therefore have a direct piece of evidence that a maths higher in Scotland has gotten easier to achieve as differentiation and integration were no longer part of the syllabus. Feel free to explain that away.

    Two of our first year maths modules were recapping stuff that we did for A level maths, was a bit of a waste of time but hey ho easy marks to get in the exams.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 19,822
    john80 said:

    When I went to Uni for an engineering degree they spent the first year teaching us maths that used to be part of the higher syllabus. I therefore have a direct piece of evidence that a maths higher in Scotland has gotten easier to achieve as differentiation and integration were no longer part of the syllabus. Feel free to explain that away.

    Can't speak for Scotland but calculus was definitely in my A-level. A quick Google tells me it still is.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    Pinnacle Monzonite

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 6,238
    Raw data = percentages

    Grade boundaries need not be at fixed percentages.

    If you must use children as a tool to assess teachers, use the raw data.

    Grades should be used to assess where you are in your year group, not a comparison to year groups in years past, because teaching techniques and syllabuses change. So you aren't comparing like with like.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,982 Lives Here

    Raw data = percentages

    Grade boundaries need not be at fixed percentages.

    If you must use children as a tool to assess teachers, use the raw data.

    Grades should be used to assess where you are in your year group, not a comparison to year groups in years past, because teaching techniques and syllabuses change. So you aren't comparing like with like.

    OK but they are.

    By your logic there shouldn't be a need for grades, just what percentile you result was.
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,833

    By your logic there shouldn't be a need for grades, just what percentile you result was.

    That is roughly what happened in the past (when I did O- & A-levels), just that they happened to give them names.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 4,341
    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,982 Lives Here
    morstar said:

    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.

    Luckily the Tories moved away from coursework and towards exam only.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 6,238
    edited 24 May

    Raw data = percentages

    Grade boundaries need not be at fixed percentages.

    If you must use children as a tool to assess teachers, use the raw data.

    Grades should be used to assess where you are in your year group, not a comparison to year groups in years past, because teaching techniques and syllabuses change. So you aren't comparing like with like.

    OK but they are.

    By your logic there shouldn't be a need for grades, just what percentile you result was.
    No, you clearly don't understand, I'm saying precisely the opposite. I guess you only got an A** in maths (equivalent to a grade C in O-level, I think).

    I have experienced 2 extremes.

    My finals uni exams had a cohort of only 200. They recognised that there would be variations in quality of intake year to year, but also that there would be variations in exam difficulty. Pass marks for a 2:1 varied from 25-60% for any given exam. The uni took something of a stick your finger in the air approach and looked for grade boundaries in the marks (I believe at the 1st/2nd, and possibly also the 2nd/3rd boundaries).

    My professional exams have a fixed pass mark. Again, the cohort is in the hundreds and you get harder exams set some years than others. So pass rates vary from 35-65% year on year for some of them.

    Both are imperfect, but the uni's approach is the least worst, because notionally my class of degree compares with someone else's class of degree no matter when it was taken.

    With ca. 4.5 million in the GCSE intake, the year to year variation in cohort ability is negligible, so there's no reason to change the proportion of candidates getting each grade.

    If you want to use the exams to test the teachers, which I think is basically immoral and a way to save a bit of cash on inspections, you can carry on trying to make the exams themselves consistent and use the absolute percentages.

  • morstarmorstar Posts: 4,341

    morstar said:

    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.

    Luckily the Tories moved away from coursework and towards exam only.
    Gove applied a one dimensional ideology to education which is hardly surprising.

    I just get fed up with people making out kids are stupid and the exams are easy simply because they feel their own grades are devalued.

    Grow a pair and accept that the system has changed for the kids that are in it.

    By all means argue for or against the system but don’t make out the kids are stupid and their grades aren’t deserved.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 6,238
    edited 24 May
    morstar said:

    morstar said:

    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.

    Luckily the Tories moved away from coursework and towards exam only.
    Gove applied a one dimensional ideology to education which is hardly surprising.

    I just get fed up with people making out kids are stupid and the exams are easy simply because they feel their own grades are devalued.


    Grow a pair and accept that the system has changed for the kids that are in it.

    By all means argue for or against the system but don’t make out the kids are stupid and their grades aren’t deserved.
    This is the problem with grade inflation in the first place though isn't it? And in any case the argument is that the kids are the same and the exams are easier

    I was second or third through the GCSE system. If you think devalued grades are bad now...
  • briantrumpetbriantrumpet Posts: 6,833

    morstar said:

    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.

    Luckily the Tories moved away from coursework and towards exam only.

    Of course, the dilemma is that the more focus we put on exam results as a measure of success, the more that everyone will game the system. If it's coursework, parents (and even teachers) will be inclined to 'assist': ultimately, it's un-policeable.

    On the other hand, exams are a very blunt instrument: questions generally are set which can be marked quickly by non-experts (hence stuff like 'key vocabulary' etc), and so they will veer towards knowledge (memorisable facts etc) rather than deep understanding. And once you've got that bias in the exam set-up, that will drive the learning: getting a 'good grade' becomes more important than developing a deep (if incomplete) understanding.

    The best education is one which develops a lifelong and insatiable appetite for learning, and that gives one the tools for learning. All too often the exam system and how the education system is driven by the exam system produces the opposite of what it should be about.

    Of course, I'm not going to suggest that we can do away with exams - but to pretend that they are some objective measure - unchanging over time - of anything other than how well people learn how to get good marks in those exams, is nuts.

  • TheBigBeanTheBigBean Posts: 12,667


    On the other hand, exams are a very blunt instrument: questions generally are set which can be marked quickly by non-experts (hence stuff like 'key vocabulary' etc), and so they will veer towards knowledge (memorisable facts etc) rather than deep understanding. And once you've got that bias in the exam set-up, that will drive the learning: getting a 'good grade' becomes more important than developing a deep (if incomplete) understanding.


    That's a bad exam done on the cheap. Probably another result of privatisation.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,298
    The problem with today's education and exams is its tailored towards actually passing a few questions at the end. In days gone past you learnt everything that was around and would be tested on anything you should have been taught. The problem as I see it the focussed approach is wrong because the spread of knowledge is not wide enough. My eldest left school a few yrs ago with A,s & B,s in maths and sciences, which as an electrician came in handy but the level at which it was taught was way over what was actually required. My youngest is just finishing with whatever teacher grade he is given. He needs maths to work as an apprentice joiner but again the level taught to is way above what is required in some areas but inadequate in others because he was educated to pass one particular paper. We need kids education and exams to mimics real life and not somebody's perception of this. My industry is crying out for capable engineers but we insist on training them incorrectly. An engineer should get a good overall knowledge during there training, sadly we target train little chunks of knowledge so they have no ingrained knowledge.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 54,982 Lives Here
    edited 24 May
    Yes you are all describing Goodhart's law.

    Basically: When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.

    Schools, teachers, students, all need to be measured, right?

    Especially when you insist on having a competitive education system.

    So until you stop it being competitive, anyone sensible and rational is going to focus on whatever game is needed to be played to get the highest result.
  • morstarmorstar Posts: 4,341

    morstar said:

    morstar said:

    Everybody’s debating around the exam boards and schools but the outcome is an inevitable result of measuring schools on exam grades.
    That’s the root cause.
    Children are doing better in examined subjects as they are being a taught a narrow curriculum and coached towards achieving grades very successfully.
    They are not brighter, they are more successful in specific subjects but they are less broadly educated.
    Don’t make out the kids are stupid for the system they’ve been put through.

    Luckily the Tories moved away from coursework and towards exam only.
    Gove applied a one dimensional ideology to education which is hardly surprising.

    I just get fed up with people making out kids are stupid and the exams are easy simply because they feel their own grades are devalued.


    Grow a pair and accept that the system has changed for the kids that are in it.

    By all means argue for or against the system but don’t make out the kids are stupid and their grades aren’t deserved.
    This is the problem with grade inflation in the first place though isn't it? And in any case the argument is that the kids are the same and the exams are easier

    I was second or third through the GCSE system. If you think devalued grades are bad now...
    Your argument precludes the idea of improvement.
    Imagine every school but 1 remains static but one school under a new regime improves considerably. Their better grades should not reduce those of others.
  • focuszing723focuszing723 Posts: 2,010
    Condensed to talking a good game rather than getting on and achieving something.
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