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Can every studen get a C in Maths?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by pencho, Feb 18, 2012.

  1. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Gove has said that he wants every student to leave school with a C grade in Maths and English. Surely this can only happen if you have exam papers that remain similar over years. I think awarding bodies simply award a few more C grades each year to show standards are rising. In other words it has nothing to do what a student knows but more to do with a quota.
  2. I agree that the actual achievement of students seems irrelevant to grades - the allocation of grades seems related to political ends rather than an accurate or consistent assessment of students.
    It does make me despair, and I think it supports the call for a single exam board, which is independent of government and does not have interference relating to quotas, but rather sets papers of similar difficult each year (this should not be too difficult a task for an exam board!) and grade boundaries staying consistent. I think this would be fairer on all, as the grades would really mean something.
    As to the question of whether 100% can achieve what is currently a grade C standard, I don't think it is. There are two groups of students as I see it within this category: those who fall short because of a lack of ability or because they have SEN which prevent them from reaching it, and students whose environment/parenting have made it impossible to reach this level.
    The problem is also that by the time they reach secondary, any negative impact of parenting etc has been compounded year on year and it's impossible to reverse in some cases. I agree that primary schools should be charged with the number on priority of ensuring students can read, write and do basic maths. However as a governor of a primary school, I am aware that they are not given the freedom to do what is best for pupils.
    In the entire education system, there are professionals at all levels struggling with incompentency from above and a lack of understanding or trust to enable them to carry out their jobs as effectively as they can. I think it's too big a task for Gove to tackle now.
  3. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Antics. Agree with your sentiments. I think teachers should be listened to more. Why can't the ACME campaign for something like this. The important questions are just ignored. Is there anything we can do?
  4. We could form our own campaign/pressure group?
    Seriously though I do not know if there is anything we can do. Even in my school we are not listened to (communication between SMT and dept is literally non-existant). The problem is the people with the power to change things don't really care about it, they only care about their own political careers and how they look. And even if they did care, they don't have the first inkling about what needs to be done to effect real, positive change. They seem to gather together bits and bobs that they like the sound of and end up with policies that are an incoherent mess.
    I don't mean to be negative, but I honestly feel as though the sheer frustration of working in the UK education sector is driving me out of it for my own sanity.
  5. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Interestingly I've been looking recently at the CIE iGCSE that appears to count in league tables. It doesn't have all the functional stuff in it and the foundation tier feels more like an old intermediate. Interestingly though the pass rate is bait 76%. More and more state schools are now doing it. Do you think the percentage will drop? Interesting.
  6. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Also back to the KS2 comments about KS2 results ncreasing and so expect further increase. The KS2 Englsh and Maths results are not dissimilar, yet there is a massive difference at GCSE. Is this really down to bad Maths teaching. The entire GCSE exam system needs looking at if you ask me.
  7. Whilst the current win-loose model appears to be unfair and just has us all competing for a quota of grades already determined (if some students work hard and achieve high scores, they will be the winners and as a result the pass mark will increase and some students will drop below the grade threshold, they will be the losers), it would be extremely difficult to come up with an alternative system. If there was a fixed pass mark to achieve to gain a particular grade, then there would be large fluctuations in the numbers passing each year as it would be nearly impossible to set an equally difficult paper each year, and it would be very unfair on students if they happened to miss out on a grade because it was a difficult paper that year. The quota system might seem unfair, but it does ensure an consistent amount of students achieve each grade year on year.

    What would be a fairer way of assessing students ability in maths?
  8. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    To be honest I am more for continuous assessment. To me it seems like you work 5 years to sit 2 exam papers and that is he culmination of your efforts.
  9. Would you really want maths to go down the line of courses that are assessed through continual assessment such as BTEC science? Just copy down from the board to show evidence that you can do something and then tick it off as a pass.

    The current system is not ideal, but it is probably the best method out there for assessing students ability in the subject, continual assessment just rewards those that work hard and those are not always the best mathematicians!
  10. Can they all get a C?
    Do you want them all to get a C?
    Probably not.
    Getting an O Level at C or above in Maths and English was always seen as a measure of educational success when employing people. Then it changed to GCSEs and was devalued somewhat over time. If everyone got a grade C then the ball-park would change. Employers would expect an A level in Maths - something that many know is beyond them.
  11. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Exactly - the whole point of a qualification is it differentiates those that can from those that can't. As soon as everyone has something it becomes worthless.
  12. Easy
    Replace grade G with grade C so that F=B E=A D=A* C=A** B=A*** A=A**** and A*=A*****

  13. Absolutely. Why do we refuse to acknowledge a substantial proportion of the population do not have the working memory or processing skills necessary to study 'maths'. They DO need numeracy (and, of course, literacy). In many cases these need to be at the functional level alone. Because we are trying to treat everyone 'equally' when they are in fact 'different', we are insisting on trying to be all things to all men and failing many. The Germans have got it right. Why can't we look at a successful education system which celebrates practical skills and equips those possessing them with the numeracy and literacy tools to fulfill their vital roles?
  14. O level grade B in 1981 GCSE grade A* in 2001 both for Maths. I consider my O level to be the better qualification.
    Topics i covered at O level are now part of the A level syllabus, notably quadratic formula and cosine formula.
    Grade C or above for all, the only way this can be achieved is to water the qualification down some more.
    i work with some amazing students who are not academic. if i can get them to swear less in class it is an achievement.
  15. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    I follow what you are saying and agree in part.
    I cannot accept that a GCSE is too much. If it is too much for the student then he/she should be given an opportunity to take another type of Mathematics qualification.
    A to C in maths means something depending on which paper is taken for ease of discussion lets just say higher-middle and lower. Of course you then have the different examination boards which from my observation do not maintain equivelance (I know there are many arguments here).
    Perhaps a solution for providing a minimum level in Maths and English would be a National matriculation Certificate. By this I mean the meeting of prerequisites nationally determined as minimum levels prior to leaving compulsory education and/or entry to employment.
  16. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    I believe we do agree.

    I have no big problem with the content of the GCSE (I could argue about some of the details). My issue is precisely the one you identify - a lot of the kids in modern secondary schools should be attempting a different maths qualification

    The maths GCSE isn't at fault (perhaps the C is a little too easy to obtain..?), the fault is that maths GCSE is more or less compulsory for 16 year olds despite it being unsuitable/irrelevant for at least 30% of that population.

    Yes. Unfortunately, the spec would be so politically interfered with, the first round - which would, no doubt, be introduced with no notice nor time to prepare - would almost certainly include calculus and Latin grammar.

    It would probably take about 10 years before a decent, relevant spec could be accepted!
  17. lexus300

    lexus300 Star commenter

    I think we are sailing on different ships but in a similar direction.
    A professional Engineer would definitely require the calculus, trigonometry, algebra in all its forms etc, for a medical man or linguist then Latin Grammar could well be on the radar too.
    The politicians need to get away from driving through curriculum, they are not the best qualified to do this as we know.
    Do you remember CSE's? They ran in parallel with GCE's and I still think they could have some merit. I cannot remember why they were killed OFF! Probably a B****y politicians idea to improve things.
  18. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    Yes, but someone wanting to travel in that direction could opt for maths GCSE, then A levels just as now. Switching compulsory maths from the catch-all it currently is to "functional numeracy" wouldn't limit the choices of the 50% or more who could actually achieve the GCSE.

    They were killed off for a number of reasons, some of which apply now and some do not.

    The most important political reason for their demise was they were the "exam of the secondary modern" - very much seen as a second-class qualification for those who didn't pass their 11+

    And perhaps the most important educational reason was that it was necessary to decide which to enter at an early stage - so even in those schools which offered both (Grammars tended to only offer O levels, Secondary Moderns only offering CSEs), the choice of which was made in year 9.

    GCSEs allow the same course to be taught until at least year 10 with the decision to enter foundation or higher taken at a late stage. So, while it's still generally true that those with the best results from primary will go on to the higher paper and the worst results will go on to foundation, GCSEs do allow for "late developers" to blossom.
  19. These topics are still very much a part of GCSE maths.

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