UK Exam boards are creating race to bottom

The Education Select Committee warned that competition between exam boards had created a

The current system has created “perverse incentives” in which multiple examiners strip content out of syllabuses, stage training seminars for teachers and sell textbooks packed with exam tips to help schools inflate their overall scores, it is claimed.

In a damning report, the Education Select Committee accused boards of setting tests that make “lesser demands of students” to boost their share of the market.

This has been driven by a league table system that has created “significant downward pressure” on schools to secure basic passes at the expense of promoting a rounded education, it warned.

Graham Stuart, the committee’s Conservative chairman, said that politicians and exam boards had been in “denial” over a drop in standards in recent years, despite a notable decline in public confidence.

The cross-party committee called for existing boards to be stripped of their powers to set the content of tests for 15- to 19-year-olds in England.

MPs recommended the creation of a single “national syllabus” for each GCSE and A-level subject – accredited by the qualifications regulator Ofqual – which each board must follow when setting new test papers.

The move comes after an investigation by The Daily Telegraph last year found chief examiners using advice sessions to give teachers the exact wording that pupils should use to obtain higher marks.

One examiner told teachers how to “hammer exam technique” rather than teach the entire subject curriculum. Another said that schools “don’t have to teach a lot” to enable children to pass a geography GCSE course, adding: “We don’t know how we got it through.”

Mr Stuart said: “The public have lost confidence in exam standards and this needs to be put right. We’ve got to stop the dumbing down of the courses young people sit and stop exam boards competing on how ‘accessible’ their syllabuses are.”


Telegraph has the full article

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