A Levels – A for absurd

A Levels – A for absurd

We are now in the middle of exam results season and I’m afraid it’s a big FAIL for A Levels.

The system is failing us all; students, universities and employers.

This year A Levels had a pass rate of 98.4 per cent – just 1.6 per cent failing.

A whopping 36.4 per cent of grades were A* or A.

The last set of results before Covid was in 2019 and in that year the pass rate was 97.6 per cent, with just 2.4 per cent failing. In that year 25 per cent of grades were an A* or A.

So there it is. More grade inflation. Absurd.

It is not the fault of the students or the teachers, but of the system.

Politicians have been manipulating it for years and their interventions have served to undermine what was once considered the gold standard.

During the pandemic, results were even more inflated and are utterly meaningless.

In 2021 when there were no exams there was a 99.8 per cent pass rate with 45.8 per cent of results an A* or A. It is clearly absurd and proves that the advocates of teacher-assessed work have lost the argument.

Comparing this year’s results with those of 2019 highlights the grade inflation with the ridiculous situation that a third of results are top grades – A* or A.

Even the 2019 results were patently wrong with far too many top marks and far too few fails.

By comparison, when A Levels were the gold standard between 1966 and 1984, 10 per cent received A grades and 10 per cent failed.

Grade A B C D E O Fail
Percentage 10% 15% 10% 15% 20% 20% 10%

If grading is distributed among students in the way the above chart shows – the way it was done in the earlier period – it means that only 10 per cent will achieve an A.

It is not based on the mark but on the fact that only the top 10 per cent achieve this grade. This prevents grade inflation and means that the results are always constant.

An A grade means that a student’s mark is in the top 10 per cent in the country.

This is the system that we should go back to – not this ‘pick a grade’ every year to match a particular mark.

This is open to political gerrymandering and that is exactly what has happened.

What government would want to say their results have gone down rather than up?

Politicians have had their fingers in this particular pie for years and have tried to deceive the public into believing that things are always improving.

The truth is that students are not becoming more intelligent or that teachers are amazingly more effective – although the latter might be true in some cases. The real truth is that the exam results are being manipulated.

What is the result?

There is a lack of trust in the system. The whole thing is a charade and complete nonsense.

Things are only of real value when you can make realistic comparisons.

I am far more impressed with a student who achieved four A grades in 1984 than in 2022 because I know that the 1984 student was in the top 10 per cent of the country’s students. That would not necessarily be true now.

This sorry state of affairs also means the ‘gold standard’ A Level has been eroded to mean virtually nothing. It is now not so much gold as a weak alloy, capable of being manipulated into anything.

It must be incredibly difficult for universities and employers to have any confidence when they look at the so-called qualifications of the applicants.

I make a desperate plea for us to return to the gold standard and re-adopt the way it used to be done.