Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Measures of Success?

Measuring Achievement?
It's been a bit hard to blog anything for the last few days as my heart's really not been in it, or anything else for that matter. The rip roaring excitement of the Lib Dem leadership election wasn't quite enough to snap me out of it, actually as it happened that particular bit of breaking news wasn't even enough to snap me out of a very light post-luncheon snooze this afternoon.

Luckily for me, though probably not for future generations of school children, some later news on the government's highly suspect plans for 'Advanced Diplomas' has at least partially roused me from my slumber.

According to a BBC report, the University Admissions service, UCAS, has decided that the proposed new diplomas should be worth more than three 'A' levels on their points system. Fortunately, the BBC manages to summarise the salient bit of information in just one line in one of its information boxes:
Advanced - takes broadly the same time to do as three A-levels, worth 3.5 A-levels

Source: BBC News

Where the article is a little light though is on where this 17% increase in pupils natural ability and effort or teaching efficiency is going to come from, however I can already envisage the government of whatever political colour it may be at the time, crowing over such a radical success, however illusory it may actually be.

I'm not sure what the nature of UCAS is, whether for example it falls under the somewhat overused term of 'quango', but to an extent it hardly matters. It must deal with primarily with public institutions and examination systems whose basic structure is dictated by the government and will know that any suggestion of anything other than continuing success, at least as far as statistics are concerned, will simply not be tolerated.

Already, as the BBC report reminds us, only four in 10 university admissions officers in a survey stated that the Diploma would be a "good alternative" to A-levels and the Russell Group of leading universities has expressed qualms over the scheme. Little good though will it do either group, so addicted now have successive education secretaries become to suspect statistics over the real world experiences of the likes of the universities and employers.

Sadly I suspect that when the scheme extends to more traditional academic areas, limiting choices to broad brush stroke subjects such as 'Humanities', 'Science' and so forth, the voices of the achievement hating 'anti-elitists' will further entrench the worrying drift of the upper end of the secondary education system towards the type of model inflicted on the same pupils earlier in their school career.

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