Improvement of grading system is not just about quitting the modular exam system

February 13, 2013
Category: Blog

Today the High Court has not accepted a bid from school leaders, teachers’ unions and councils to change grade boundaries in last summer’s GCSE English exams. What is Gove’s solution? “Make Labour politicians apologise for introducing modular GCSEs.” Yes Gove, that’ll do it.


Whilst getting rid of modular GCSEs will evade further repercussions of  these discrepancies in grade boundaries, I don’t believe that it will solve the problem that employers and universities face when trying to sort the wheat from the chaff.


I got good GCSEs, so did quite a few of my friends. Being the youngest of 5 (with only 2 of us doing GCSEs) the immediate response was. “Well, they get easier every year, don’t they?” Whilst being affronted at the time, it was a saying that I adopted in subsequent years when, goodness gracious, didn’t the country’s 16 year olds get so much cleverer under Labour?


Let’s face it, the exams did get easier, or if not easier, the opportunity to get a good grade got greater.  So when it comes to grades, modules or no modules, why has no one suggested a different way of grading the exams themselves? Why not introduce a points system – completely transparent, whereby the A* scraper can be seen from the A* acer? Or, why not rank the grades by the top percentage levels? Only 10% of people are able to score above a certain amount to get an A*, followed by the next 15% able to get an A, the next 15% to get a B and so on. Therefore the exams can never get easier, it is purely weighted on the highest achievers of that year, not on a difficult paper or a badly assessed scoring system nor by a political party trying to hammer home how brilliant they are at ‘Education, Education, Education…’


Whilst Gove is right in criticising Labour for the introduction of modular GCSEs, he still has a long way to go in delivering a policy that will produce a grading system that fairly applies high and low grades to those that they are due.


  • Why not simply give actual marks, no grades, then there’d be no “scrapers”. Just marks for each subject

  • I don’t Gove should abandon modular GCSEs. One final exam is fine for kids with the best memories and fastest writing. These are not necessarily the brightest, nor the most useful to employers. Work which has been carefully considered, organised and presented often demonstrate skills more commonly useful in the workplace.

  • Terrible to change boudaries half way through year. Too late to change now. Apologies please

  • Apologise not enough. If moving the boundaries was wrong then grades should be re-assessed. Never too late

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