95% PASS; Are the A-Levels Getting Easier. or Are Students Getting Smarter?

The Mirror (London, England), August 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

95% PASS; Are the A-Levels Getting Easier. or Are Students Getting Smarter?


Byline: DOROTHY LEPKOWSKA, Education Correspondent

STUDENTS taking "easy" subjects has led to another record breaking year for A-level passes, critics claimed last night.

Figures out today will show grades continue to creep closer to the 100 per cent pass mark, with more than 95 per cent of entries at grades A to E, up from 94.3 per cent last year.

John Dunford, boss of the Secondary Heads Association, said results were rising because students were opting for "easier" subjects like psychology, religious studies and media studies.

The number of entrants in psychology has risen by more than 7,000, to almost 42,000.

Media studies saw a 4,000 increase to 24,000, while RE was up by 2,000 to just over 12,500.

More than a fifth of exams resulted in the top A grade.

But Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, denied standards were falling.

He said: "There is no such thing as an easy A-level.

"The A-level is a world-class qualification and standards are maintained year-after-year in all subjects.

"Some students will have a greater aptitude for certain subjects than others, but the standards remain the same."

Mr Dunford said: "The rising interest in subjects like psychology, with the consequence that people perceive physics, maths and languages as harder, means that grades are rising. …

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