A-levels mess

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warumich
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A-levels mess

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:03 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2 ... admissions

Ah great times to be our department's admissions tutor. I'm going to be manning the clearing hotline tomorrow with no idea what's going on, no confidence in the "exam results" the applicants will come with, some kind of vague pleas from ministers for universities to be "lenient", but no indication of what that means in practice.
Teachers are confused, parents and students are confused, ministers are confused, universities are confused, grades mean something but we don't know what they are supposed to mean, be lenient but don't over-recruit, keep spaces for the outcomes of the inevitable appeals or take everyone with a pulse now to ensure we stay solvent as a business? No clarity, panic, b.llsh.t, and above all, everyone is too busy having a heart attack to brief admissions tutors on what to actually do.

I understand that the pandemic is not the Tories' fault, and I have in the past been really willing and trying to be less judgmental even when they f.ck up as they did frequently, because it's a new and unpresidented situation that would be difficult for anyone to handle. In particular, I have not got any better idea of how A levels should been handled this year (though, us and more than a hundred other universities have all managed to handle final year exams without going into meltdown). But the sh.t ministers are having to deal with now could have been seen flying at them from miles away and in slow motion, they've had f.cking months and plenty of warnings to realise that it's a mess, or even if not, that it will be perceived by the public as a mess, which if you're a minister surely is almost exactly the same thing.
There are so many unforced errors that anyone with the amazing IQ that chairman Cummings and his sidekicks think they have should have seen coming. Just once, ONCE, please I would like the Tories to handle a situation without making a complete clusterpiss of something, is that really too much to ask?

sh.t, is 1pm too early for a gin and tonic
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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:41 pm

Just how many departmental roles did you get stuck with, warumich?!?!?!

I do feel for you. We're sitting here trying to work out are we going to hit our target? Well, we're guessing we're won't massively under-recruit at the moment, but we have no idea what the upper end might be. Talking to our admissions tutor - we've got lots of insurances in that mix and if there are lots of near misses for their 1st choice it might takes weeks to find out how it's going to be resolved. Who's going to be lenient and who's not, it depends on how full their courses are... and then of course come all the appeals...

We've just spent summer working out the shape of how we're going to teach, the students are having a half-day F2F teaching per year group (plus our lot are doing a half day of labs) and we've been allocated set rooms for them (which they stay in and staff rota in and out), but they have a maximum capacity (for example our dept has been given 2 rooms that will take 20 and 2 rooms that will take 8) - what happens if we end up with more than 116? We've also got the same issue with maximum capacities in the labs at any one time, but still trying to meet the RSC's hours of lab time for accreditation. Whilst we've got numbers to try and wrestle for year 2 onwards, we've got nothing to go on barring hoping it'll look roughly like previous years.

Gulp.

Good luck!!!

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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:46 pm

From you link:
Some universities have seen falls in bookings for places in halls of residence despite overall student numbers holding steady.
From what I've heard, so far our bookings have held steady (even were ahead of where they were the previous year), but as to what that means when push comes to shove, I don't know.

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warumich
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Re: mess

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:05 pm

Well the placements are technically academic modules at our place, so that counts as part of my teaching workload allocation. Mind you, we're a small group, so most colleagues end up with two roles. I'm also dep rep on the appeals panel which will also be fun once all the 'rona mitigating circs appeals roll in...

Mostly just needed to vent. Like everyone else I hate clearing at the best of times. But yesterday I had to sift through applicants that missed their offer grades, and oh boy have I seen some utterly bizarre "exam" results.
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warumich
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Re: mess

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:15 pm

To add, at least in my line of work teaching is all talk that can be done remotely, I don't envy you guys for having had to work out what to do with laboratory classes.
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Re: mess

Post by Sciolus » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:20 pm

One thing that is pretty sh.t is that they stuck to the original results day, despite it being foreseeable that there would be a huge number of appeals, and having had four months to figure out what they are doing.

The other interesting thing is how much is coming out that shows the whole exams system is utterly unfit for purpose. If exam grades bear no resemblance to either mock grades or teacher forecasts, why should we believe that the exams are the true measure? I especially liked the official declaration that grades depend as much on which school you went to as how good you are individually. Go to a sh.t school? We'll make sure you get a sh.t grade.

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Re: mess

Post by AMS » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:39 pm

Sciolus wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:20 pm
One thing that is pretty sh.t is that they stuck to the original results day, despite it being foreseeable that there would be a huge number of appeals, and having had four months to figure out what they are doing.
This really doesn't make sense, does it? The normal results day is presumably set by the timetables for running exams over June and July, then marking them, and the validation and moderation processes.

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Re: mess

Post by headshot » Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:39 pm

Your forum name appears to be very appropriate.

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warumich
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Re: mess

Post by warumich » Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:22 pm

headshot wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:39 pm
Your forum name appears to be very appropriate.
Why me, indeed - though on the who to feel pity for scale admissions tutors should be far down the list, first there's the students who have been left hanging, then the teachers who've worked hard for months producing predictions that were completely ignored in favour of an algorithm, and then there's the poor sods at Ofqual who will have to clean up the ministers' piss, by Monday.
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Re: mess

Post by JQH » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:21 am

warumich wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 7:22 pm
headshot wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 4:39 pm
Your forum name appears to be very appropriate.
Why me, indeed - though on the who to feel pity for scale admissions tutors should be far down the list, first there's the students who have been left hanging, then the teachers who've worked hard for months producing predictions that were completely ignored in favour of an algorithm, and then there's the poor sods at Ofqual who will have to clean up the ministers' piss, by Monday.
Indeed. The situation may be unprecedented but it was not unforeseen. Yet this useless bunch of clowns masquerading as a government did nothing.
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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:49 am

Seems to be a bit of theme at the moment in right-wing circles both here and in the states - "it's someone else's problem" to fix even when those in power have caused the problem.

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warumich
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Re: mess

Post by warumich » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:20 am

Been fairly busy on the line so far, some properly pissed off students though
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Re: mess

Post by lpm » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:23 am

Image
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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Thu Aug 13, 2020 11:20 am

lpm wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:23 am
Image
That’s impressively f.cked up.

Particularly given, if my experience as an A-Level teacher is representative, that student will have had progress checks, end-of-topic-tests, marked homework etc. on average every two weeks throughout their KS5 programme, a formal sit-down test at least every term and several hundred hours of small-group tuition so the assessing teacher(s) will have an extremely thorough understanding of how well that student was doing with reams of evidence to support that assessment.
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Re: mess

Post by FairySmall » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:16 pm

I've spent much of this lockdown feeling relieved that FairyTiny is too young to really be affected by it all. And sad for all those kids that have had a much harder time. This situation is especially crappy. When I was 18, I thought the A levels were the most important thing ever.

I've also spent much of this lockdown feeling relieved that I'm not on the education side of my uni. Hearing what warumich and others are having to manage is depressing.

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Re: mess

Post by Sciolus » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:42 pm

Well obviously someone from Hartlepool couldn't possibly get A or A* grades, it stands to reason.

There was a case just on the news of someone downgraded from B to E because in the previous year, one of the three people taking that subject at her school had got an E.

The stooge from Ofqual managed to admit that was wrong, but didn't try to explain why they hadn't spotted it themselves or apparently taken any measures to prevent such perverse results. He also said she could appeal, which is pretty unhelpful since university places are being assigned now. As I said above, the results should have been released on a provisional basis a month ago so that appeals and discrepancies could have been sorted out before university decisions are made.

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Re: mess

Post by malbui » Thu Aug 13, 2020 12:50 pm

I don't know how much mention this got in the UK media but in France this year the Bac was cancelled and final results were attributed on the basis of the five previous trimesters' results plus teacher input plus regionwide standardisation. The outcomes were, you'll be unsurprised to learn, and to use a technical expression in French, absolutely f.cking random.

My child comfortably got the results needed for the first choice university place, but even so there were two subjects where the final grade was seemingly determined by rolling a D20 and correcting for battle damage because nobody at either the lycée or the académie can begin to justify them. Other students were not in such a fortunate position and I know of several whose plans to study outside of France have been blown away.

And with the reform of the Bac underway, resitting next year is no longer as simple as it was.
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Re: mess

Post by Brightonian » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:18 pm

Sky News wrote:Ofqual has warned that appealing against a grade will affect other students from the same school because of the rank order system.

It said if one student successfully appealed against their position in the rank order it would push another student down the ranking and they would then need to be allowed to appeal.
https://news.sky.com/story/as-and-a-lev ... d-12046680

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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:25 pm

Brightonian wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 1:18 pm
Sky News wrote:Ofqual has warned that appealing against a grade will affect other students from the same school because of the rank order system.

It said if one student successfully appealed against their position in the rank order it would push another student down the ranking and they would then need to be allowed to appeal.
https://news.sky.com/story/as-and-a-lev ... d-12046680
What the WTF?
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Re: mess

Post by Lew Dolby » Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:45 pm

Bl**dy good job we got rid of continual assessment, eh !!??
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bob sterman
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Re: mess

Post by bob sterman » Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:50 am

The system they've used seems guaranteed to block social mobility.

Given that the decision to cancel exams was made back in March - for many A-level subjects, would it perhaps have been possible to come up with some sort of coursework assignment that students could have completed at home in May/June? That could have been marked?

Although I suspect that because teaching has become so focused on preparing for specific assessments these days – pupils would have felt a bit lost if they were asked to apply their knowledge in a type of assessment they were not expecting.

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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Fri Aug 14, 2020 8:03 am

bob sterman wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 7:50 am

Although I suspect that because teaching has become so focused on preparing for specific assessments these days – pupils would have felt a bit lost if they were asked to apply their knowledge in a type of assessment they were not expecting.
Then truly we have prepared them well for an unpredictable and ever-changing future.

I wonder which weirdo and misfit's genius idea it was to focus on the rote learning of factoids (in the Age of Google FFS!) at the expense of the development of transferable skills?

What the Gove-Cummings twatopoly did to the GCSE Science practical component would make a lab scientist weep. A-Level was only marginally better.
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Re: mess

Post by FlammableFlower » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:23 am


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Re: mess

Post by Little waster » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:34 am

Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, acknowledged the danger that an “exceptionally high-performing child in a low-performing school” would not get their expected grades. But Boris Johnson later insisted the results were “robust” and “dependable”.
Although TBF the flip-side of that coin is any random drooling half-wit from the right public school will now get a slew of A*'s despite being congenitally lazy, will sashay his way into a PPE course in Oxford, spend 3 years spaffing around with his fellow Bullers and then probably end up as PM, which is exactly the sort of thing which made Britain the meritocratic utopia it is today.

So you know, it's not all bad news ...
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Re: mess

Post by discovolante » Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:43 am

Little waster wrote:
Fri Aug 14, 2020 9:34 am
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, acknowledged the danger that an “exceptionally high-performing child in a low-performing school” would not get their expected grades. But Boris Johnson later insisted the results were “robust” and “dependable”.
Although TBF the flip-side of that coin is any random drooling half-wit from the right public school will now get a slew of A*'s despite being congenitally lazy, will sashay his way into a PPE course in Oxford, spend 3 years spaffing around with his fellow Bullers and then probably end up as PM, which is exactly the sort of thing which made Britain the meritocratic utopia it is today.

So you know, it's not all bad news ...
As I have waffled about elsewhere, the current approach leads to a 'danger that people will be promoted beyond their competence'. I'm not talking about the obvious irony to Gavin Williamson's comments there...
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