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Thursday, August 18, 2011

What happens when the A Level pass rate reaches 100%?

So the A level results are out for another year. The UCAS-fest springs into action. For the 29th year in succession there have been improvements. In any other walk of life, especially business, this would have been met with incredulity as to how this had come about. A Dragon Den’s investor would be in ecstasy. Bonuses would have been showered upon staff, handsome dividends paid out to shareholders and stock market valuations at a premium.

Grade inflation and a devalued educational examination system are words that dare not be spoken. If one puts educational performances under scrutiny, one may be accused of undermining the hard work of teachers and the efforts of their students. An ogre taking sweets from the kids.

And yet there must be something wrong, as our economy faces a skills shortage and many in the educational system struggle to hit basic levels of literacy and numeracy. It is not by chance that skilled economic migrants from Europe seek their chances with us.

A visitor from another planet would be forgiven for thinking that somehow there is an inconsistency between educational performances as measured by exam results (not just A level at that), the performance of our economy and the skill levels of those seeking employment.

Michael Gove and his pals are caught between a rock and a hard place. Criticise the results inflation and you are a killjoy. Praise them and one is participating in the delusion that our economy has a decent skills base. The big question of course is what do we do when in a few years time the pass rate reaches 100%?

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