January 15, 2005

Grade Inflation, British Style

Grade inflation has caused concern in the United States, where the issue of giving marginal performances passing grades has had tremendous impact on higher education. However, the British appear to lead the world in grade inflation, with the London Telegraph reporting that scoring as low as 17% on math exams could net British students a B:

Pupils have been awarded a B grade in a maths GCSE exam despite scoring only 17 per cent, The Telegraph can reveal.

The pass marks for the new exam, which was taken last summer by 7,500 children from 65 schools and is due to be introduced nationwide next year, were an all-time low.

Pupils sitting GCSE maths last year had to achieve about 40 per cent to get a B grade. But with the new exam, designed by the Cambridge-based exam board OCR, those who got as little as 17 per cent were given a B, while those scoring 45 per cent were awarded an A.

The British government just announced what they claimed were "record" achievements in their educational testing, but examiners and teachers expressed outrage and disgust at the attempt to bolster educational policy through fudged results. Now, I've heard of lowered expectations in education, but granting an above-average mark for getting 83% of an exam wrong makes one wonder what British educational policymakers consider average.

Something tells me that British voters may decide to grade their performance, and I doubt that they'll get a B for effort.


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