1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

GCSE Maths exams are no longer fit for purpose.

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by Maths_Mike, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I have ranted before about the demise of the three tier and the total unsuitability of two teir for assessing maths GCSE but really this years exams are simply proving my point.

    When is something going to be done to allow the exam boards to have a cahnce to set a fair paper that assess the ability of the students?

    Higher is to constrained by the amount of D/E grdae material that has to be included. The "functional" questions seem to have been introduced a year early and while they make a positive contribution it was unfair to include them without warning.

    some questions are just unecessarily obtuse or quirky.

    The new AQA A* with distinction is further prooof that things are going badly wrong - Something needs to be done.
     
  2. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I have ranted before about the demise of the three tier and the total unsuitability of two teir for assessing maths GCSE but really this years exams are simply proving my point.

    When is something going to be done to allow the exam boards to have a cahnce to set a fair paper that assess the ability of the students?

    Higher is to constrained by the amount of D/E grdae material that has to be included. The "functional" questions seem to have been introduced a year early and while they make a positive contribution it was unfair to include them without warning.

    some questions are just unecessarily obtuse or quirky.

    The new AQA A* with distinction is further prooof that things are going badly wrong - Something needs to be done.
     
  3. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    I agree about the two tier, three tier thing.
    Quirky? Not really. Yes, this paper had a different feel to it - that happens. Different examiner? Maybe. In my opinion, edexcel haven't been sufficiently 'quirky' in the past. Their papers have been far too formulaic and predictable. A true test has to put students on the spot and solve problems they are unlikely to have met before. Had all their previous papers had this element of surprise in them, I'd feel that edexcel had got it about right.
    What I can say is that the change in this year's paper is too little, too late.
    I do wish they'd chosen a more 'mainstream' topic than density when creating that sort of problem solving question...
     
  4. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I agree I like the non routine nature and requirement to slove problems (and was a fan of AQA for this reason) - but they have gone from one extreme of being to
    to the other.

    I also dont think the allocation of marks is fair.

    6 marks on simple fractions.
    5 marks for bog standard cumulative frequency and a further 2 marks for a bog standard frequency polygon, 3 marks for a scatter diagram and 3 marks for a questionnaire, and 2 marks for a ver simple comparison of box and whiskar - 15 marks on handling data with all of them pretty easy and no probability - this will probbaly balance out when we see paper 2 but I just didnt like it.

     
  5. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Although I also want to widen the debate - I am not trying to just discuss edexcel - thats another thread - I think in general all exams boards are really struggling to set papers that are a fair test and that allow students to demonstrate their mathematical skills.

    The introduction of so called functional questions is futher complicating the issue.

    We need to stand back and really consider how we want to assess mathematics as frankly I think we are getting it wrong.
     
  6. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    It particualr will be annoying for my school - we changed from AQA to Edexcel to benefit form the fact that edexcel was much preferred by the students as it was much more accessable - this is a fact you only have to look at the grade boundaries to prove it - then this year what happens - role reversal AQA is just about the easiest paper I have ever seen and edexcel is unusally difficult.
    The playing feild is so uneven its unplayable
     
  7. pencho

    pencho New commenter

    Agree Mike completely with what you are saying and I am in the same situation!!! Unbelieveable.
    I think this thread is an excellent example of discussion and debate. I think there are so many good points being made.
    With regards to my stance last month regarding eary entry. The variability of papers is another reason why I feel Novemver entry for C/D borderlien students is a good idea. Our Y11 did the November paper as a mock in December and most achieved a grade C. I fear many will have failed this time because of the increased level of difficulty/ingenuity of the paper.
     
  8. Agree that there should not be widely varying standards from series to series and this is where Edexcel have come a cropper. Their previous five or six papers have been pathetically easy with grade E and even grade F (anyone remember 423 x12?) questions on their Higher paper. All of a sudden they put proper questions at the top end of their paper and this takes everyone by surprise. It seems to me that they have had a warning from the regulators -at last- and had to go back and change their paper.
     
  9. tim hod

    tim hod New commenter

    I'm also in the same situation as Mike - after a life-long association with AQA I switched to Edexcel for accessibility this year. :(
    My year 10 top set are doing early entry after getting a median of 90% on the 2010 Edexcel paper, when I gave it as a mock last year. Instead of giving them a Paper 2 practice paper this week, I've cobbled together a paper from all the hardest AQA questions over the last few years and will go through it today.
    Anyone like to hazard a guess as to Grade boundaries?
    Tim
     
  10. There are I'm sure many HODs who were lured to Edexcel by their (ahem) accessible papers.
    In my view they have been found out by the regulator and had to make changes to their papers. I am sure this is something they (Edexcel) did not want to do and has left them with some explaining to do to centres.
     
  11. mathsman

    mathsman New commenter

    My students in FE have generally failed to get a grade C at school and so are re-siting it with us.
    The big question is higher or foundation paper? In our experience most of our students can have a good go at 75% of the marks in the higher and they only need to get something like 60% of <u>those</u> questions right to get their C. Also, since we tell them that the last four or five questions are for the A* students they go into the exam with the realistic perspective that there are some questions they can't do and we haven't spent time in class studying
    Also, by not even attempting the last few questions they can use the time the examiners allocated for those questions on the earlier ones!
    There was also too much stress on the Foundation paper not to slip up and to maintain the stamina of doing all the questions to a high standard
     
  12. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    521 We believe that there are two fundamental principles which should govern
    any examination in mathematics.
    The first is that the examination papers and
    other methods of assessment which are used should be such that they enable
    candidates to demonstrate what they do know rather than what they do not know.
    The second is that the examinations should not undermine the confidence of those
    who attempt them. Because the syllabuses which will be prescribed and the papers
    which will be set will be the greatest single factor in influencing the
    mathematics teaching in secondary schools in the coming years, we believe it to
    be essential that the examination should provide suitable targets and reflect
    suitable curricula for all the candidates for whom the examination is intended;
    and that in order to achieve this it will be essential to provide a number of
    different papers so that candidates may attempt those papers which are
    appropriate to their level of attainment.
    Quote from Cockcroft 1982 - says it all really - thanks to mmmmmmmmmmmaths for highlighting this quote from a very well respected report.
     
  13. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    I might add that I cant see how current two teir GCSE's come anywhere near meeting this advice.
     

Share This Page