posted on Apr, 25 2004 @ 06:11 AM
As someone who work in the area of work based learning (I am a retention officer - a post created to keep people on vocational courses), I have direct
experience of dealing with Edexcel, OCR and the QCA.
I can tell you that the problems with Edexcel are long running and very serious. They are a private company employed by the government who seem to
have no regard to the lives they are affecting.
Among the top issues in this case are the socio-political issues of marking structures and grades:
"At one time, exams worked on the basis of objectively judging what standard the examinee was working to, by means of written exam papers,
coursework or whatever, and assigning a grade based on the objective level reached. Not any more. What happens now is that boards are told what
percentage of students must get an A, what percentage a B, and so on, and the board adjusts their grade boundaries to reflect this. This means that
your grade is determined not purely on your own performance, but on your performance as ranked against others in your year-group."
Add to this the problems with their own examination paper where, on one maths paper, one of the questions they actually set
impossible to complete. It had a diagram with two different numbers on it making the actual calculations impossible as the numbers given were
"Two sixth formers who were affected say the disruption to their exam could cost them a university place.
At Allerton High School in Leeds, students Amit Bharath and Adam Sissman raised their concerns about the maths paper with their teachers, who
Amit said the mistake had affected his concentration and he might miss the grades he needed to study medicine at university.
"The calculations I was doing I kept getting wrong and I did not know why," he said.
"First I thought that it was just basic arithmetic - but then, when I looked at it, the numbers had been written wrongly."
And then there was the incident about the board repeating questions in an exam which were identical to some of those used in the mock exams:
"One of the main examination boards repeated questions from its practice AS-level papers in the real exams students sat this summer.
Edexcel's AS-level in Religious Studies included questions students might already have tackled on the specimen papers.
Edexcel told BBC News Online there were only so many ways to ask questions in an exam."
And they can't even get grading right:
"More than 10,000 sixth-formers have been given the wrong results for an information technology examination - and some will have to resit the
In total, 3,705 information technology students, who were celebrating a pass on Monday, have now been told they failed and will have to re-sit key
The error, by the applied qualifications provider, Edexcel, was caused by a single pass mark being put into computers instead of different pass marks
for each of the six tests." Full Story
These errors go on and on and on and on and......etc
And it seems that every time they make a mistake, the government simplys slaps their wrist and tells them to do better next time. In my opinion, the
whole system is unworkable - 'they' state that it is a free market and that anyone can apply to become an examinations board but, when you look at
the barriers to entry, it would be almost iimpossible to gain entry into this market, thus the system is an oligopoly in which the government needs to
maintain the status quo to give the impression of a system that works.
*Soapbox away - back to work*