Return of end-of-course exams in major A-level overhaul

Traditional end-of-course exams will be reintroduced to A-levels under major plans to toughen up the qualification. Teenagers will be tested at the end of two years – with no exams in the first 12 months – to stop courses being broken down into bite-sized chunks that “encourage a formulaic approach” to education. This is from the Telegraph…

AS-levels, which are currently taken in the first year of the sixth-form, will become standalone qualifications, with marks no longer counting towards final A-level grades.

Ministers hope it will allow many students in England to take three full A-levels and supplement them with at least one shorter AS qualification in a separate subject.

In a radical move, it was also revealed that the Russell Group of elite universities will set up a new academic board to advise the exams watchdog on the design of A-levels, which will be introduced from September 2015.

Subject specialists from top universities will carry out annual reviews of exams to make sure course content is being properly assessed, it was revealed.

The move – to be announced on Wednesday by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary – is being billed as an attempt to restore academic rigour to qualifications sat by around 300,000 schoolchildren each year.

It comes amid claims that current A-levels fail to prepare students for the demands of higher education, with many universities complaining that school-leavers lack subject knowledge and basic skills.

In a letter to the head of Ofqual, Mr Gove said there was “clear dissatisfaction among leading university academics about the preparation of A-level pupils for advanced studies”.

“I am concerned that some natural science degrees have become four-year courses to compensate for problems with A-levels,” he said.

“Linguists complain about the inadequacy of university entrants’ foreign language skills. Mathematicians are concerned that current A-level questions are overly structured and encourage a formulaic approach, instead of using more open-ended questions that require advanced problem-solving… There is also growing concern that private schools routinely teach beyond A-levels, giving their pupils an advantage in the competition for university places.”

More at:  Return of end-of-course exams in major A-level overhaul

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