[FoRK] The rise of the stupid?

Kelley kelley at inkworkswell.com
Sun Feb 27 15:53:04 PST 2005

At 04:34 PM 2/27/2005, Andy Armstrong wrote:

>Heh... If that's the case they should come and check out the reality 
>before committing to anything. There have been some truly dreadful schools 
>in the UK in the past and it's nice to have a way of rooting them out them 
>but the current metrics are having substantial unexpected side effects. 
>For example one of the measures used is the percentage of pupils obtaining 
>grades A-C in their GCSE (aged ~16) exams. School funding is tied to this 
>and other performance indicators. As a result these grades have shot up, 
>mainly because kids who seem to be at risk of not obtaining an A-C pass at 
>GCSE are diverted into a parallel set of qualifications (GNVQ) which, 
>although they provide the schools with A-C passes (a GNVQ is equivalent 
>for those purposes to four A-C GCSEs), have very little currency with 
>employers and in further education. Once embarked on this route (the 
>implications of which are well understood by the kids) it is not possible 
>for them to switch back to a GCSE course.

*shakes head*

Reminds me of my second year in grad school. Competition for diminishing 
numbers of TBBs (tuition-bearing beings) meant that the university had to 
start paying, at least, lip service to students in order to compete. The 
big push to create the "student centered university" was born.

The administration implemented a number of measures, including standardized 
student evaluations. They also tied pay raises to the results of student 
evals--among other things. The profs were terrified, since they'd never 
been required to solicit student evals. Indeed, they'd never really been 
asked to pay attention to teaching before.

Mysteriously, students started getting better grades across the board. 
Though the variation can't, of course, be explained by one factor, I'm 
pretty sure a big part of it had to do with profs' concerns that they would 
get bad evals if they were perceived as too tough.

Otherwise, thanks for posting that link. We are so focused on us-us-us in 
this country, the debate over schooling seldom looks at the experience of 
other countries.


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