DS stands a good chance of getting the golden 5 GCSEs inc Eng and Maths, providing I apply constant, low-grade pressure to him, as will his school, to help him achieve this. He always puts in top effort but simply isn't particularly academically gifted.
I can confidently say he will fail 'tougher exams'. He will be unable to access a 6th form (given that they aren't just about A levels alone, any more), or an apprenticeship.
Unfortunately, having dodged the bullet of Gove's 'new style' GCSEs as proposed a few months ago with his year as the guinea pigs, here we go again. If this gets toppled, Gove has, on his 'new education overhaul plan, issued every 6 months' average, 4 more chances to fuck up my child's educational future.
As DS will be in this guinea pig year, and we can be absolutely sure Gove will insist that the results demonstrate 'new rigour' i.e. fewer passes, there are unlikely to be any 'alternatives' in place to help DS and similar DC on their way- I mean, like the current slow but steady growth of higher level apprenticeships and so forth springing up to accept the DC who can no longer take the risk of the debts of a university degree without guaranteed, reasonably well paid at the end. One Day One of our DCs' emerging, blinking, from this brave new tough-GCSE world, where they, as a result of their 'fails', cannot access 6th form or apprenticeships (as these colleges will be a good year or so, minimum, behind performing the entrance requirement 'regrade' they'll have to do to get kids through their gates)- what will become of them? No amount of media hand-wringing or cold, sober analysis of the first year of results will compensate our DCs for the educational dead end they may find themselves at, all as a result of a trumped up, egotistical, arrogant, self-aggrandising Minister who rides roughshod over decades of hard-won, evidence-based 'good practice' to force a nation's state-educated children emulate what he sees as being his own, unsurpassable 'education'.
I agree that good schools encourage reading around and going beyond the syllabus regardless of what exam is being taken.
Controlled assessments have not entirely dealt with concerns about coursework and have raised some concerns of their own. For example, research by Ofqual a few years ago found widespread concern that controlled assessments reduce teaching time making it more difficult to teach the full syllabus and encouraging teaching to the course rather than getting students to go beyond the syllabus.
O Levels were harder than GCSEs, but not because of subject knowledge or teaching.
50% of candidates got A-C and 50% D-E so even if you scored 90% you might still get a D grade if lots of people got 99%.
OK I don't think that ever happened but one grade changes certainly happened.
Also O Levels were designed for the top 20%. When did you last hear of a child leaving school with no qualifications? In my day (very old) my year had roughly 100 pupils, for each subject there were two streams (more for compulsory subjects) one was O Level and the other was CSE. There would be 20-30 pupils in each class. In physics I think we only had about 10. The year before me 50% of pupils got O Level/CSE grade 1 in English and maths, the English was double the national average, and the maths was three times the national average.
However we educate children if there are exams then IMHO it would be better to give a % and a grade, the % would be the mark you got in your exam and the grade for where you came compared to your cohort.
Everyone understands A-E, A* not so much, I'm thinking internationally here.
Someone mentioned the use if children are going to be at school until 18, well I think there does need to be a level 2 qualification, but I think some children would be better learning over 6 or 7 years and taking GCSE (or whatever) at 18 and actually passing.
I also don't understand all this messing about, if you look at he exam boards they are still producing O Level papers for other countries.
The other major issue between O levels and GCSE is the way that marking criteria work has changed.
Marking criteria used to have a lot more discretion than it does now. Not just in discursive subjects either. So for example, now in GCSE biology, your answers about the classification system for animals needs to relate to the understanding that is taught at GCSE. If you go beyond this, you will not necessarily get the marks for your answers.
This is one of the reasons that 'teaching round the test' has become such an issue. Some knowledge needs to be 'forgotten' .
The good thing about broader marking is that it allows wider knowledge to be brought in, the downside is it is a lot more difficult to standardize. So marker variability becomes more of an issue.
If you have both criterion and norm referencing (as I think you call it, e.g. percentage mark against consistent marking scheme and alphabetical grade against cohort) it will still be very complicated to express that in your CV. I think grading has to be simple and consistent every year - if you get an '8' then they fiddle around with grade boundaries so the next year's top grade is a 9 or 10, that devalues the 8 for the job seeker and confuse employers no end.