Science caught up in GCSE standards row

The TES is reporting that Ofqual has announced that it will now have to run extra checks on the level of difficulty in reformed science qualifications…

The news follows the exam regulator’s discovery that standards in sample assessments for reformed maths GCSEs, which it had already approved, were at the wrong level…

It has now emerged that the watchdog is also planning to carry out additional checks on science papers. These qualifications will be taught from 2016, but schools aiming to offer a course over three years could begin teaching in September…

Professor Alan Smithers, an assessment expert at the University of Buckingham, predicted that Ofqual and the exam boards would encounter problems with the science sample papers similar to those in maths.

He said Ofqual had been guilty of “circular reasoning” in the way it had tackled the maths standards issue, because of the pupils used in its research into the new assessments. “If you test [the new papers] out on pupils who have been taught the old GCSEs, then naturally they are going to find them very difficult,” he said…

To read the full story, get the 29 May edition of TES

More at: Science caught up in GCSE standards row

 

How concerned are you at hearing uncertainty over new GCSEs standards appears to have spread from maths to science now?

That said, Professor Smithers seems to make a good point about the logic of what is happening here: how can you test the new papers using students taught for the old ones?

The full article also claims that ‘sources at the DfE’ have suggested Ofqual’s entire role is under review in the wake of its decision to stop practical work counting towards grades – any reactions to that?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Comments

  1. Dianne_Khan

    SchoolsImprove So the message here is we should teach to the test not to skills/knowledge needed? Pfffft.

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove No other word for these exam reforms than “shambles”. At least Ofqual are trying to act (makes a change) but very late

  3. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove agree with Smithers, thought the same when news about the Maths GCSE being pulled broke

  4. The breakneck speed with which GoveGCSEs have been introduced was bound to end in tears.  Gove’s desired ‘rigour’ is revealed as an empty phrase – his reforms promise chaos, untrustworthy ‘standards’ and teachers, pupils and parents not knowing what the hell’s going on.

  5. The breakneck speed with which GoveGCSEs have been introduced was bound to end in tears.  Gove’s desired ‘rigour’ is revealed as an empty phrase – his reforms promise chaos, untrustworthy ‘standards’ and teachers, pupils and parents not knowing what the hell’s going on.

  6. This mess was supposed to bring England in line with the best exam systems in the world.  But most of the developed world don’t have so many exams at 16.  Ofqual compared ‘current’ GCSE papers (from 2011-12!) with sample papers and equivalent tests from other countries.  But some of the international tests were obsolete, being replaced, or they were for formative purposes only.

    Some comparison!

    The rest of the world must look at England with incredulity.

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