Day 120 – As Time Goes By

A long time ago (in prehistoric days so our children tell us), SMS was told at school that a fair comparison involved apples on both sides of an equation, rather than apples and pears, or apples and avocados (both of which were employed by the non-consultation document).

However, there is another issue (for which I’ll struggle to find a fruity analogy sadly – any suggestions very welcome via a comment). The problem is of grade inflation over the years.

Without wishing to denigrate the efforts of all those hardworking GCSE candidates out there (especially ones sometime known by initials only and you know who you are) grades mean different things in different years.

Generally, Government pressure means that every year more candidates get higher grades than before, as was evidenced yesterday.

Add to this that the Government changes how it assesses “success” at GCSE every so often, and it becomes very difficult to decide whether the current crop of pupils have done brilliantly and better than previous generations, or whether the exams or marking schemes just got easier. And every August, journalists take one side or another – Boris Johnson wrote a very clever piece on this last Sunday.

Educational statisticians know that it is nigh on impossible to compare different cohorts of pupils – yet this is what our local bureaucrats have tried to do with their comparisons of KS1 and KS4 statistics – and make very strong conclusions that three-tier is to blame.

What nonsense. They must think the voting public is stupid. Well soon we will find out what voters really think.

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2 Responses to Day 120 – As Time Goes By

  1. KDev says:

    It is of interest that the Bedford Borough education bureaucrats refused to give a comparison of our Statistical Neighbours 1999 KS1 results with their GCSE results in 2008. (Only the Local Authority has access to this DCSF KS1 data). The excuse was that in 1999 Bedford Borough would have had different Statistical Neighbours! The NFER computer model that selects Statistical Neighbours is based on the 2001 Census results. I do not need these officials’ post graduate degrees to work out that 1999 is closer to 2001 than 2008. Further, it is these officers who are setting our 2008 Statistical Neighbours as a bench mark and it is perfectly legitimate to judge the current Statistical Neighbours KS1 performance in 1999 with GCSE in 2008, this is a coherent set of data. If a proper analysis had been attempted rather than just seeking data that supports 2-tier schooling we would have a very different official picture of Bedford Borough pupils’ attainment than that spun to support the “education establishment’s” view.

    • JamesD says:

      KDev,
      You have missed the most important point – BLAME! Who is to blame for the apparently poor GCSE results of Bedford maintained schools? Was it:
      the middle school structure?
      OR WAS IT:
      the previous County Council councillors who starved all of the schools of revenue?
      the Education Officers who until 2006 seemed not to be concerned with improving the 3-tier system only in destroying it?
      the self interest of Bedfordshire’s education elite?
      In 2008 Bedfordshire spent £197 less per pupil than the England average, £137 per pupil less than the average of our 6 significantly better performing NEFR Statistical Neighbours.
      Did any or all of the above condone and support the lack of resources allocated to schools whilst still expecting those schools to meet the needs of Bedford’s children.
      Look at it from their point of view – it has to be the structure as none of them can be blamed for that!

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