Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

The A-Level Is Not Dumbed Down; as Doubts over 'Grade Inflation' Grow, the Minister Responsible for Schools Standards Says His Critics Are out of Date and Wrong

By Miliband, David | The Evening Standard (London, England), August 19, 2003 | Go to article overview

The A-Level Is Not Dumbed Down; as Doubts over 'Grade Inflation' Grow, the Minister Responsible for Schools Standards Says His Critics Are out of Date and Wrong


Miliband, David, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: DAVID MILIBAND

by DAVID MILIBAND, Minister of State for School Standards

"The General Certificate Rivals the Derby for Uncertain Results."

WE'VE all seen the headlines about exams getting easier - except the one above, which is from the Daily Mail in 1952. The accompanying article said that the introduction of the A-level would lead to a terrible dilution of standards.

Last week young people got their A-level results. This week it is GCSEs. Yet the arguments never change. Young people and their teachers work hard - and then have buckets of cold water poured over their heads by selfappointed experts who claim the grades ref lect easier exams.

Last year Iain Duncan Smith insulted pupils and teachers when he said A-level exams were not worth the paper they are written on. Yesterday's Evening Standard repeated the charge in an editorial. The news that Cambridge is to use an entrance exam for medicine has also been used to allege, falsely, that A-levels are "too easy".

No evidence is ever offered.

The critics simply assert that "something must be wrong".

However, the facts show the opposite is true.

Ofsted, the independent schools' inspectorate, reports that teaching standards have never been higher, with teacher trainees better than ever.

There are 25,000 more teachers and 80,000 more classroom assistants than six years ago.

If Ofsted said that there were fewer teachers, of lower standard, and exam results were falling, then people would blame poor teaching. So why don't teachers and pupils get credit when it is due?

RIGHTLY, three international studies have been used to investigate whether there is evidence that standards have fallen. Yet they have found none.

There is independent corroboration of what exam results tell us.

International studies place our children higher and higher in terms of their achievement. The tests are done without preparation - so no allegations of "teaching to the test" here.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study of nine and 10-year-olds reports that they are the third best in the world in reading.

The Programme for International Student Assessment study of English, maths and science achievement by 15-year-olds around the world puts us among the highest performers.

So the truth is that, far from standards falling, they are rising because of better teaching and learning. Why then, in the face of all the evidence, do the critics still argue that standards are falling?

Part of it is prejudice. It has been the same at every stage of our country's progress. The critics argued 100 years ago that universal education would be wasted on the poor.

In the 1950s and 1960s they said degrees would be devalued if more people went to university.

There is also a philosophical divide. This is the argument that you can only judge the standard of an exam by how many people fail. This is like saying that the quality of marathon runners is judged by how many people fail to complete the course, not the speed of the runners who do.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The A-Level Is Not Dumbed Down; as Doubts over 'Grade Inflation' Grow, the Minister Responsible for Schools Standards Says His Critics Are out of Date and Wrong
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.