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IB prejudice

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by David Getling, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. DM

    DM New commenter

    So you have never written a national examination then? Thought so.
     
  2. David G,
    Quote: 'Wow! And people call me arrogant. I humbly pass my crown to you.'
    I couldn't take that from you. I'd never be soooo arrogant as to 'diss' the examination system which has evolved over decades, caters for a huge range of abilities, is regularly validated and accounts for the single largest pathway into Higher Education. I'd never be soooo arrogant as to suggest replacing said exam system with one not fit for purpose. You keep your crown.
     
  3. I actually find myself partially agreeing with you here, though I would probably replace "INEXPERIENCED" with "idealistic", and do not think the problem is with the paper. The Pre-U people seem to have screwed up big time by not actually making sure first of all that the appropriate teaching infrastructure (i.e. from 13+, not 16+) was in place before setting what would otherwise be far too difficult an exam for them. This may have been partly due to poor communication of expectations and requirements on their part, and partly because the exams came out a few years too early.
    I do not agree however that the actual difficulty level of the exam is too high. The real problem is that A levels standards have become so astonishingly low that the Pre-U will through no fault of its own have come as a major culture shock to teachers and students alike.
    I do not think that the answer is to simplify the exam in the way that you suggest (we already have a real crappy system in place that succeeds in doing this), even though it appears that this is what they are going to do. Instead, they need to stick to their guns and let the teaching infrastructure learn the necessary lessons and adapt to teach to the more challenging exam. There is no problem with normalising the grades as they have done to ensure that they are allocated fairly. This is what happened in the old days of A level, and corrects for the unavoidable variation in difficulty of exams year-by-year.
    The Pre-U tackles two major problems:- (i) it gets rid of the ridiculous modular system making it easier to teach mathematics rather than teach to the exam, and (ii) it raises the bar in terms of standards to aim for. Both of these are big steps in the right direction, and they should continue unwaveringly in that direction despite the initial hiccup. This is not a time for apologetics, it is a time for revolution.
    - Sabbir.
     
  4. DM,
    Quote: 'So you have never written a national examination then? Thought so.'
    Did I ever claim I had? Please feel free to put one over on me if I made THAT claim.
    If I invented my own silly exam system & sold it to idiots on the basis that my new-super-duper exam was better, neater, tidier, meaner, tougher but most of all HARDER; I'd probably screw up like Pre-U did because I'd forget to involved experienced examiners when I wrote the paper.
    No, I have never written a national examination but I still feel I can comment.
    PS I have never written a best selling novel or film but I have been known to have an evidenced based opinions on what I read & view.
     
  5. DM

    DM New commenter

    This assertion is completely untrue. Repeating it over and over again does not make it any more true.
     
  6. DM

    DM New commenter

    I believe I have read some of your reviews over on Opinion under the name Jacob Junior.
     
  7. intuitionist1,
    Shame on you for blaming the Pre-U ***-up on A-levels. What piffle!!!!.......Quote: 'The real problem is that A levels standards have become so astonishingly low that the Pre-U will through no fault of its own have come as a major culture shock to teachers and students alike.'
    You have made the following assumptions:
    1. Pre-U cannot be held responsible for anything.
    2. The modular system is 'bad'.
    3. There is a 'bar' that needs raising.
    4 You assume 'standards' of teaching can be altered by an exam.
    These assumptions are can be challenged on soooo many levels; where do I start? Please also explain how 'Normalising grades' is in any way valid given the numbers of pupils who took the exam.
     
  8. DM,
    Quote: 'I believe I have read some of your reviews over on Opinion under the name Jacob Junior.'
    Not me. I go by the name BrookeBond.
     
  9. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    That is your opinion on the matter. Some would say that the A Levels constantly change their spots to match whatever shortfall in knowledge is needing a papering over.
    To begin with it is not a rant. If you wish to see a rant, read your own posts again.
    No, you teach examination systems as well. Call it whatever you wish, but teaching in the UK makes you a slave to them. SATs, GCSEs, FSMQs, A Levels... They call the tune and all you ask is when and where.
     
  10. DM, were the examiners who wrote pre-U those who write STEP? John_Clarke_1960 is saying they didn't have experienced examiners and you are saying they did. Is the truth that the examiners were experienced in STEP rather than A-level?
     
  11. DM

    DM New commenter

    Not to my knowledge. I have no idea how you might have reached that conclusion from what I posted.
     
  12. weebecka:
    Is the truth that the examiners were experienced in STEP rather than A-level?

    I don't think there is much mileage in that suggestion weebie.
    I know STEP paper setters, past and present, who are or have been setters for ordinary A-level papers.
     
  13. Karvol,
    If I hadn't read the waffle put forward by those who support the IB (& their made-up reasons) I wouldn't be of the opinion that IB is more 'luddite' (your word) than A-level.
    Quote: 'Some would say that the A Levels constantly change their spots to match whatever shortfall in knowledge is needing a papering over.'
    So YOU have just successfully argued against your original post that A-level was unchanging & luddite. Make your mind up!
    When you call A-level luddite it isn't a rant but when I call IB luddite it is because I'm ranting......Hmmm; do you have double standards on everything?
    Quote: 'Call it whatever you wish, but teaching in the UK makes you a slave to them. SATs, GCSEs, FSMQs, A Levels... They call the tune and all you ask is when and where.'
    You are not making a good impression on me. Nobody HAS to be the slave to an exam system, we should put the pupils at the centre NOT the exam. That is why I keep saying: It isn't about the exam.
     
  14. I'm not familiar with pre-U, but I am familiar with STEP. Given they are owned by the same people it is likely that there is an overlap in the people setting the papers and the thinking behind the papers.
    Reading this conversation some things struck me from my experience with STEP (both taking it and helping students prepare from it) which may be relevant here.
    STEP is supposed to help discriminate the most able students by setting questions which are beyond the syllabus. In practice students can't do those questions at all unless they have support in learning how to do them (there is an exception here - I think there is usually about one probability question which does not require further study and does test deep ability in this area). Students who have an offer from a top university are usually extrememly motivated to study past STEP papers, work out which topics they need to learn and to learn them.
    Discriminating between the deeper abilities of candidates happens at interview, where probing questions are explored in depth and at lenght face to face. It does not happen through STEP papers. STEP papers give a nice extra stretch for motivated students and they provide and extra grading system beyond A-level which means that, by setting challenging offers on STEP, top universities can ensure they don't go over on their numbers. It gives them a tool for rejecting candidates which they use to the extent necessary to get the right numbers.
    I wonder if the examiners invovled in pre-U have misunderstood the dynamics of STEP, have overestimated it's ability to probe deeper ability and have mis-applied thinking from it to an A-level standard exam?
     
  15. STEP worries me. I think it is much too hard. Yes of course there are kids who can tackle it because they are very clever and have the resources at hand to get their minds adjusted to the extra expectations over and above A-level. BTW, I came top of my year at Oxford, so don't think my comments are based on me not being able to do the questions!
    What concerns me are the clever kids who do not have the resources, and for whom STEP is several grades of difficulty above what they have experienced even with Further Maths.
    As a retired University academic, I am also concerned that STEP, like IMO, is very old fashioned in terms of the sort of mathematics it probes. It does not seem very relevant to what actualy goes on in university mathematics courses.

     
  16. DM

    DM New commenter

    This is completely wrong. STEP I and II do not require any knowledge that is beyond the "syllabus" (specification is the correct term). STEP III requires further maths knowledge as well. In practice plenty of students can and do manage to do those questions without teacher support as many schools do not provide any sort of additional STEP provision.
    This is just twaddle, If STEP does not probe deeper ability in pre-university students, nothing does.
     
  17. Oh DM have you actually chatted to the Cambridge students who did STEP?
    STEP is a game. Like any other exam. If you're well prepared for it you do well. If you're not it's extremely difficult to do well. If you're very highly motivated you will get yourself well prepared by some way or another. But the colleges take account of that in the admissions process so it's not too pernicious.
    Our current exams do not really probe deeper ability at all DM. Synoptic questions may help but high quality university interviews are far more powerful tests of deep ability than any exam could ever be.
     
  18. This is completely wrong. STEP I and II do not require any knowledge that is beyond the "syllabus" (specification is the correct term). STEP III requires further maths knowledge as well. In practice plenty of students can and do manage to do those questions without teacher support as many schools do not provide any sort of additional STEP provision.
    Well yes this is technically true, but the fact is that the vast majority of schools, even with FM extra help, cannot get anywhere near STEP. I've been on both sides of this. I'm beginning to wonder if you have a Cambridge agenda. Surely not!
     
  19. My last feeble effort was aimed at DM.
     

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