On results’ day…

On a day when high pitched squeals of delight are the norm, what a bizarre feeling. The news broke on Twitter last evening that something was rotten in the state of exam marking of English GCSE. From 8.00pm many of us were in a state of panic as we feared the worst.
For many the worst has happened. Better people than me have commented at length: http://jimsweetman.com/fans-shit-and-gcse-english#comment or http://blog.geoffbarton.co.uk/site/Blog/Entries/2012/8/23_Something_fishy.html for example – please read them.

For my part, the day has passed well. I want to take this chance to congratulate my students who use this blog. You were magnificent. Not everyone flew, but so many rose to heights unimagined hitherto. Several double As, and plenty of As in language – well done to you all: The super 14 are – Deepak, Jake, Pav, Priya, Lawrence(no one saw that coming!), Dushan, George (despite basketball – be injured more often!), Gogs, Erin (yes! Erin), Emily, Shirsendhu (The Literature star), Jasspreet, Laylan and Rachel. Take a bow! Hats off to the lot of you.

I am sad, however that my joy for these and their colleagues unmentioned is tempered by the apparent scandal of marking at AQA in particular. Again, I am not involved directly and have no real basis for comment, therefore, but the circumstantial evidence building on Twitter (the natural habitat of conspiracy theories, admittedly) really does point to what at best can be seen as clumsy and ill-considered attempts to halt grade inflation in mid-stream. It seems that in many of the most vulnerable cases grade boundaries have magically inflated, notably at Foundation C/D. The knock on effect is to deny the weakest students their chance to show something for their effort, but they seem to be a sideshow in the minds of the boards and the politicians who now have “evidence” that their schools are failing in some way. What a double whammy – raise the floor for schools attainment of A*-C and raise the grade boundaries in a core subject at the same time by as much as 10 marks compared to the January session.
No wonder so many are outraged, hurt and confused.

My wife always asks me to think: “conspiracy or cock up?” I hope this is the latter, but it’s an odd day when a teacher hopes for such incompetence in the exam boards which, in this ludicrously results-data driven industry, control our destiny.