The quest to improve educational exam results and avoid manipulation, which is ultimately self-defeating, has focused on A levels content. Universities have revealed that the improvement in A levels pass rates has not been evident in the ability of first year students on degree courses.
Glenys Stacey, chief executive of the exam regulator Ofqual has said that the current format for A levels which divides the course into four modules should be scrapped. Instead they would be replaced by the conventional approach of examining a student’s understanding of the content through end of course exams.
This move would avoid the current trend to skimp on the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a subject matter that occurs when the course is more homogeneous. Ofqual also believes the end of course approach avoids the enticement of exam resits to improve a grade. There is a further benefit of restructuring the content of the exams that will allow them to match the requirements of university degree course.
The average students’ knowledge in a subject area has been shown to have grown wider but shallower over the past 15 years. A level exam results also reflect a growing influence by teachers who have become more skilled in grooming students to pass exams. The changes in the academic structure are designed to better match the needs of universities and also those students who leave education to enter employment. Michael Gove, secretary of state for education has requested that Ofqual redesign A levels with the involvement acof universities from 2014. All we need now is for the same approach to be taken for SAT’s and GCSE’s which could both benefit from the involvement of the institutions that are about to receive the student.