This Writer is interested to know the difference between standards in – say – 1980 and 1990, based on these results.
I was a member of the last (if I recall correctly) year group to take GCE ‘O’ Levels, before the Conservative Party’s ‘National Curriculum’ was imposed in the mid-1980s and GCSEs became the norm.
At the time, I considered the change to represent a deliberate drop in standards, imposed by the Tories, and this evidence tends to support my belief.
I recall that exam results improved markedly after the new system was imposed. These findings suggest it was due to a fall in standards, rather than an improvement in education.
So one is led to ask, have people who took their exams before the change – and received lower grades – been wrongly overlooked in later life by employers, who would have been dazzled by higher GCSE grades that in fact represented lower achievement?
If so, is that one reason why standards have fallen so dramatically across the UK since the Conservative Party victory of 1979?
What’s even more discouraging is the fact that, although standards did not deteriorate further after the Labour Party regained office in 1997, they did not improve.
Perhaps this is one occasion on which a return to the old ways – of ‘O’ Levels rather than GCSEs – might represent a step forward (as well as backward)?
Students who score a B grade in A-level maths today would only have secured an E grade 50 years ago, research suggests.
But despite standards dropping in the last half-century, there is no evidence that they have fallen since the 1990s, according to a study by academics at Loughborough University.
Major reforms to exams in England are currently being introduced, with the first new GCSEs and A-levels in subjects including English and maths brought in last autumn. Ministers have previously said that changes to the system are needed to make the qualifications more rigorous.
The study involved A-level maths papers from the 1960s, 1990s and 2010s at grade A, B and E and saw maths experts looking at pairs of papers and deciding which one showed the better mathematician.
The researchers concluded that a grade B in a maths paper from the 2010s (which are now being replaced by the new qualifications) was equivalent to an E in the 1960s, but no different from the 1990s.
Study author Ian Jones said: “The lack of change since the 1990s was something that we did not expect – that’s not the intuition of politicians and the public.”
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