Pupils sit same exam with different boards to improve results

Schools are entering pupils for GCSE maths with several different exam boards at the same time in an effort to improve grades and boost their league table positions. This is from the Telegraph…

The controversial system of modular tests has allowed teachers to “double-enter” teenagers for the early modules and then continue with the board with which they score the highest mark.

Tim Oates, a senior exam board official who led the Government’s curriculum review, said it was a “frightening” and “entirely illegitimate” practice, and suggested it was being driven by efforts to help students on the borderline between D and C grades, the threshold for a “good” pass.

The Department for Education condemned the tactic as “cynical” and said it was “clearly” not in the best interests of pupils.

Mr Oates, director of research at Cambridge Assessment, which owns the OCR exam board, told a publishing conference he had seen evidence that teachers were entering children for the initial modules of maths GCSEs with multiple boards.

He said: “I can tell you it’s frightening. In my view, and I come from an exam board, it is an entirely illegitimate use of public funding in relationship to education.

“It is wasted money. I’d much rather see those exam fees being spent on high-quality learning resources.”

He told the Times Educational Supplement he had “deep misgivings” about the move, adding: “There has to be a question mark over the cost of this practice and whether it is simply being driven by accountability arrangements – the C/D borderline.

“We are picking up signs from the system that modular GCSE has encouraged schools to double-enter students in key subjects in early modules and then certificate with the board in which the student is most likely to gain the highest grade.”

However, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the practice was caused by the “flawed” way in which schools were given incentives to improve their league table position.

“These schools are doing the best they can within a bad system,” he told the TES.

It was revealed last month that hundreds of state schools have forced pupils to sit English exams in both the GCSE and the alternative International GCSE at the same time in an attempt to improve their grades.

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