Exam Reform in the Spotlight

Janet Downs's picture
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Posted on behalf of Trevor Fisher who had difficulty logging on.

At the start of the next school year, new specifications will be unveiled for reformed GCSE and A Level exams. These will bring with them high level risks for the exam system in England driven by seriously questionable assumptions by Michael Gove and his allies. As the Education Select Committee has begun an investigation into 15-19 exam reform, it is time to scrutinize the reforms.

The new SOSS pamphlet EXAM REFORM – UNRESOLVED ISSUES focuses on key issues for immediate consideration with full debate on all the implications.

The current priority is to secure rigorous examination of workability. It is remarkable that the proposals are not to be trialled, tested or piloted in any way. Given the problems thrown up by the 2001 A Level and 2012 GCSE reforms, piloting is the minimum required to restore public confidence in exams. The philosophy of returning to end of course exams with no resits purely on the basis of memory test timed exercises risks producing an alienated generation.

There are however severe problems for subjects across the curriculum. This affects all the A Level subjects being introduced in the first tranche, the GCSE subjects to be rolled out in stages, and those subjects that will be purged in the current OFQUAL planned elimination. No subject is unaffected by the untrialled and unassessed attempt to change the exam system, and with Performance 8 replacing the traditional 5 subject measure for accountability the demands on pupils and teachers are massive. It needs urgent debate.,

The pamphlet includes contributions from Professor Richard Pring of Oxford University, Dr Sue Pope of Manchester University, who is chair of the general council of the Association of Mathematics Teachers , Professor Margaret Brown, of Kings College London, Trevor Fisher and Joe Vinson of NUS.

The pamphlet is available, from VIEWPOINT PO Box 3599, Stafford ST16 9RD. FIRST COPY FREE. Please enclose a C5 stamped addressed envelope. Extra copies are £1.25 each for 2-5 (inc p&p), 6 and above £1 each (inc p&p). Cheques to be made payable to SOSS (Symposium on Sustainable Schools). Please enclose an email address if you wish to be informed of future initiatives.
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