'New' A Levels - today's announcement

(65 Posts)
BidRed Wed 23-Jan-13 15:11:10

Another issue has just come up today; the proposal to change the A Levels back to where they were in my day – exam-based.

I do understand why this has been proposed – the Universities and Employers are worried about the drop in standards of the current A levels.

However, there is a big debate starting about how boys do better in exams rather than coursework and that anyway coursework is 'easy' and/or is all down by the parent and therefore cheating.

Essentially, Mr Gove is saying that girls cheat and because they are getting better standards than the boys and have pushed up the pass mark, he wants to go back to the old method which is favoured by boys and will push the girls back down again.

Is this all part of a scheme to get women back in their rightful place of in the home; looking after all generations thereby decreasing the bill for looking after both pre-schoolers and the older generation, and also freeing up jobs for the boys therefore decreasing the unemployment numbers?

All in one go, what a brilliant plan.

If you choose to stay at home, absolutely FINE, but if you can't/don't want to .... ?

Just a little bit sexist though, don’t you think? We are 52% of the vote don’t forget – good old Emily!

What do you think of this plan?

Susan2kids Wed 23-Jan-13 15:23:06

"Essentially, Mr Gove is saying that girls cheat and because they are getting better standards "

No he's not. Thats patently ridiculous. Countless academics (Many of them female) have called for an end to an exam system that lets you retake modules until you get the result you wanted rendering exams so worthless they had to add an A* grade. There's no big debate on gender here and I really cant believe your trying to read sexism into it. One of the reasons real discrimination is ignored is because of people trying to make issues where there are none.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 15:26:18

I think it is true that girls do better with modular courses and boys with final exams, though, so this could have some 'interesting' results.

There is an issue with endless retakes, though - I get students who think if they don't like their mark, they can just 'resit' the essay. Er, nope - you have to suck it up and learn from it and move on now, unless you want to apply to take the whole year again, and pay for it.

We do teach them different things at university, and ask different skills of them - but I don't find it a problem to say 'ok, yes, that is what you needed to do at A level, but this is what you need to do at university: it is different'.

Startail Wed 23-Jan-13 15:28:51

Hooray as a dyslexic "Girl" who loathed and detested course work and the mother of another dyslexic girl who would also much, much rather just do exams, Hooray.

Scribbling in an exam people accept your hand writing and spelling are a bit iffy, everyone's is. Course work/ controlled assessments you get to prepare for so people expect a standard that is horribly stressful.

Also exams are over and done with nice and quickly instead of dragging exams out over two years and trashing DCs extracurricular activities.

Stupid January exams GCSEs are messing up all sorts of things and other subjects are still setting HW and mock exams during them.

ALL EXAMS should be in the SUMMER. Two blocks of hard work one in Y11 one in Y13. The rest of the time DCs should be children and free to do other things as well as school work.

I make no comment about AS levels, I think widening the curriculum may be a good thing, but I'm too old and DD and her DFs are too young to have done them.

AS for being Sexist, I've known boys who worked their socks off doing course work and girls who did the absolute bare minimum and every grade of effort in between.

Also education has bugger all to do with staying at home, I@m a SAHM and i have a better degree than DH.

In our case the main decider was age, he's older and had a well established well paid career when the DDS came along, I didn't.

Startail Wed 23-Jan-13 15:30:40

Also January exams plus snow is clearly totally predictable and down right daft.

Muminwestlondon Wed 23-Jan-13 15:32:28

I don't think there is anything wrong with A levels under the current system. Though possibly a "memory test" at the end might benefit my daughter rather than making her work hard for two years, as the current system does.

I disagree that students take modules over and over until they pass. If they don't pass the first time, they are unlikely to do much better later on. I think Unis and also employers (I have heard of at least one law fim) ask about retakes. I also like the fact that DD can take 4 subjects to AS which she would not be able to do under the new system. She was agonising over which to take and will agonise again over which one to drop for A2.

I did two of my four A' levels as one year courses (I changed to an FE college after one year in Sixth Form) and got A's. That was 25 years ago, when they were a memory test - good for me as I did very little during the two years, luckily I had excellent teachers who were good at teaching people to pass exams rather than learning about the subject.

If it ain't broke don't fix it.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 15:34:27

Snow is probably as predictable in January as floods are in June.... hmm

chloe74 Wed 23-Jan-13 15:59:38

The OP is very sexist and completely unrepresentative of either male or female views.

nagynolonger Wed 23-Jan-13 17:13:51

The snow this year has caused real trouble with DC getting in for exams. Our area floods at various times too but that is less of a problem because it just means a longer journey to school.

One advantage of exams in the winter is that it does help DC who suffer with hay fever who are at a real disadvantage in May and June.

I'm not sure how switching back to end of course exams will disadvantage girls. Have my five sons been disadvantaged by the current system?

When do they intend to introduce this?

webwiz Wed 23-Jan-13 17:20:29

Its planned for 2015 nagynolonger so for current year 9's.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 17:21:52

I'm pretty sure the statistics suggest that girls' results are better in courses with coursework, and boys' with end of course exams. Does anyone know about this?

nagynolonger Wed 23-Jan-13 17:32:27

So my 16 yearold DS will still be at a disadvantage. Hope you feel for him OP!

thesnootyfox Wed 23-Jan-13 17:37:53

I have always found exams easier than coursework, struggled to get myself organised with coursework.

I think that Gove has got it wrong. Coursework is not the soft option. At university you have to complete coursework and at work you have to research and write reports.

Will exam based learning raise standards? Or will it just favour people like me who are good at rote learning?

thesnootyfox Wed 23-Jan-13 17:43:32

In answer to the OP I am not sure that the new A level will disadvantage girls because I'm not convinced that girls are worse at exams than boys. It may just be that there are a lot of disorganised boys out there who step up at exam time. As much as I dislike Gove I don't think that his intention is to disadvantage girls.

I don't like his proposals though and I worry that our children will suffer as a result.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 23-Jan-13 18:17:35

So Cambridge think it will make it more difficult to identify bright pupils from state schools. I think I begin to see.....

creamteas Wed 23-Jan-13 20:29:02

Actually most employers and universities are not critical of the modular system (which is used at most uni's anyway), and we do not want to lose AS (unless we go to post A level applications).

The content of some A levels is an issue, and, unless there is good reason, resits should be limited, but both of these things could change without ditching the modular structure.

creamteas Wed 23-Jan-13 20:32:49

BTW did he actually say no coursework?

Most of the coverage I have seen suggests terminal assessment, but not necessarily that will always just be exams.....

ShipwreckedAndComatose Wed 23-Jan-13 20:50:38

I am worried that these changes will reduce choice and flexibility. At the moment students choose AS levels and then decide which to continue after the heatr's study. they do not always choose the subjects they thought they would and like to continue some that they found more interesting than expected.

These changes seemed to be preventing that.

Whathaveiforgottentoday Wed 23-Jan-13 22:00:42

I'm old enough to have sat terminal exams for my A levels, but I've been teaching modular exams for many years and to be honest I'll be glad to see the back of them. With the system at the moment you spend too long preparing for exams to the detriment of other skills within the subject.
I would have hated to have done module exams and much preferred just one big stressful time rather than stretching the stress over 2 years!
I feel lucky that I sat my exams when I did. Also with some subjects, they just don't get it in the early stages so modular exams always seemed pointless. For example, many weaker students struggle with chemistry in AS but sometime in year 13 it starts to fit together and clicks so chemistry would definitely benefit from being terminal exams (IMO).
No reason why there wouldn't be coursework in linear A levels. I did coursework or practical exams in all my A levels back in the 80's.

noblegiraffe Thu 24-Jan-13 01:32:45

When coursework was scrapped for maths GCSE, boys started outperforming girls which they hadn't done before.

I think it's well established that girls perform better on coursework tasks in general than boys.

sashh Thu 24-Jan-13 05:01:22

Actually if you look back at the old O Levels and A Levels girls out performed boys on a regular basis.

Pre national curriculum girls did not always get the same opportunities to take certain subjects but when they did they got better results.

Go back to the 1950s and you will find girls had to get a higher mark on their 11+ to get into grammar school.

Yellowtip Thu 24-Jan-13 08:08:40

These seem sensible proposals.

I'm struggling with the conspiracy theory.

lainiekazan Thu 24-Jan-13 09:34:27

How silly.

I would have hated coursework.

I suppose the driving test is unfair to women too. Much better for us poor dears to take it in nice bitesize sections because we can't cope with stress of an examination. As it is it's a conspiracy to keep women off the road.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 24-Jan-13 09:44:18

I think my problem is that it doesn't seem based on much except that M Gove remembers it being like that in his day, and as such obviously right. I don't see that an end of year exam promotes deep learning, particularly - and though there may be some things which could be looked at again with A levels, this seems so swingeing, and so without clear rationale, that it is suspicious.

The HMC don't like it. Teachers don't like it. Cambridge don't like it. This is enough to make me think he ought to at least have a little rethink.

LaQueen Thu 24-Jan-13 14:19:31

I'm very pleased about this change.

having worked in schools, and with several friends/family members who are teachers I have become very disillusioned with current A Levels.

I fail to see the validity in a course which spoon-feeds you easy, bite sized modules and then allows you to re-sit and re-sit until you get a nicer grade.

What exactly is that meant to test hmm

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