Thursday, September 10, 2009
Lake Wobegon of England
"Are ever-rising A-level results evidence of better teaching and harder-working pupils, as Labour education secretaries claim each August? Or are they proof of spoon-feeding syllabuses and easier exams, as the opposition Conservatives say? ... The pass rate rose for the 27th year running, and is now 97.5%, up from 68.2% in 1982. The share of A-grades went up too, by 0.8 percentage points compared with last year, and now stands at 26.7%. The end result of this 27-year bull run is that an eighth of all candidates now get three A grades, more than used to get a single A back then. ... But probe the figures and they start to look flakier. School league tables, and the less selective universities, count grades regardless of subject, so an A in photography equals one in physics. ... The idea is that an educational 'Gresham's Law' is at work, with bad qualifications driving out good as schools push pupils towards easier subjects in the hope of rising in the league tables, and pupils scramble after any old As to present to undiscriminating universities. ... The Durham team used aptitude tests to show that pupils of a given ability get far higher A-level grades now than they used to 20 years ago", Economist, 20 August 2009, link: http://www.economist.com/world/britain/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=14270137.
Shades of HISD, "we are all gifted now". 97.5%, wow! Vance Packard proposed an "educational Gresham's Law" would take hold 50 years ago, my 23 August 2008 post: http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/08/college-investment.html.