A-Levels, O-Levels, GCSEs and degradation.

by Harry on June 13, 2008

They play a great game in the UK every summer (no, not cricket, that’s far more important than a mere game). In May and June 16 and 18 year-olds take externally and anonymously graded exams (A-levels for the 18 year olds, GCSE’s for the 16 year olds), and the results come out later in the summer. In June lots of journalists write about how much easier these exams are than they used to be. (This is an especially appealing hypothesis for those of us who took O-levels before they were abolished in favour of GCSEs, and struggled to get B’s and lower, but who see our friends’ children sailing through with lots of As). When the results come out in August, the same journalists look at whether average results have gone up or down. If they have gone up, this is proof that the exams are getting easier (grade inflation); if they go down this is proof that the students are stupider or the schools are worse. This happens every year, without fail, as if no-one has noticed that it happened last year and the year before. Hence this piece from Minnette Marin.

I’m going to ignore Marin’s curious attacks on my friend John White (curious, because she seems to agree with him pretty much exactly on all the issues, so I don’t understand why she feels the need to be so hostile to him) and focus on the other things she says.

First, grade inflation.

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Waldeck on Endowments again

by Harry on June 13, 2008

Sarah Waldeck has some thoughtful responses at Concurring Opinions to some of the comments made in the previous post as well as Larry Solum’s post on her paper.

I am amused to see a post at Redstate that begins: “We all know Democrats have their own Culture of Corruption.” If the Dems have got partisan Reps trained to concede, by implication, that of course the Republicans have a capital-C Culture of Corruption … that’s pretty darn good for the Dems, eh?