Bad day today!

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Bad day today! // Rants and Raves

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Post by splinters // Aug 14, 2008, 9:04am

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Well, I had to come somewhere to let off steam...

Today the A Level results are announced here in the UK and I was awoken abruptly this morning by the exam officer who had serious concerns about the results for my subject...and righly so!

Kids who had been achieving grade A's all received a U in a written test (for those out fo the UK, this means unclassified i.e. no mark!)

Furthermore, their coursework had been adjusted by up to 45% (DOWN!) so kids due to get an A or B were receiving B's, C's..one even got an E!

I suspect a rogue marker (someone who assesses a paper based on their own opinions rather than the standards set by the examination board) or one that is simply inept (and I have met a few!).
In 15 years of teaching I have not seen suprising results like this and this was possibly my best year of teaching this level.

Of course I feel for the kids seeing these results without understanding the potential admin cockup behind them...and the possibility that they may not get their University place as a result!

Today I am fed up, disillusioned with the examination system and not too proud to be a teacher. I really am fed up!

It goes without saying that we have appealed and asked for them all to be remarked but the exam boards often 'look after their own' and hate to admit cock ups given the bad press they have had in the past...so I am a little worried that we may be made to 'carry the can' on this one.

I regularly post the students CAD work here, some of which is exceptional (Hemulin?) so I have no idea what is going on here!!

Did I say I was fed up......:(:(:(

:(:(:(

Post by Jack Edwards // Aug 14, 2008, 9:46am

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Maybe it's time to bring in the news media?

:(

Post by jamesmc // Aug 14, 2008, 9:52am

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I remember getting a bad mark when I went to college. I got a 19 on my overall ACT score which is on the low side and made me feel really bad. Anyway, I got into college under a probation clause.

Later I transferred to another college and needed to get a copy of my ACT scores. Low and behold, my score was a 29 not a 19! I was a bit miffed at the admittance staff at the old college, but was nothing I could do, except that humility made me study harder for a couple of semesters. :)


Chin up old boy, perhaps the rooster will crow louder in the morn.

Post by RAYMAN // Aug 14, 2008, 9:55am

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Well, I had to come somewhere to let off steam...


Today the A Level results are announced here in the UK and I was awoken abruptly this morning by the exam officer who had serious concerns about the results for my subject...and righly so!


Kids who had been achieving grade A's all received a U in a written test (for those out fo the UK, this means unclassified i.e. no mark!)


Furthermore, their coursework had been adjusted by up to 45% (DOWN!) so kids due to get an A or B were receiving B's, C's..one even got an E!


I suspect a rogue marker (someone who assesses a paper based on their own opinions rather than the standards set by the examination board) or one that is simply inept (and I have met a few!).

In 15 years of teaching I have not seen suprising results like this and this was possibly my best year of teaching this level.


Of course I feel for the kids seeing these results without understanding the potential admin cockup behind them...and the possibility that they may not get their University place as a result!


Today I am fed up, disillusioned with the examination system and not too proud to be a teacher. I really am fed up!


It goes without saying that we have appealed and asked for them all to be remarked but the exam boards often 'look after their own' and hate to admit cock ups given the bad press they have had in the past...so I am a little worried that we may be made to 'carry the can' on this one.


I regularly post the students CAD work here, some of which is exceptional (Hemulin?) so I have no idea what is going on here!!


Did I say I was fed up......:(:(:(


:(:(:(

Dont feel bad about it Paul !

We all have these days ... one of my best friends got the result from a

prostate exam last week and it turned out that he has cancer.

I thought about that the whole week.

There are some things in life that we can not change although its pretty hard to swallow.You have probably given your best as a teacher and your students

will make the best of their lifes nevertheless.

Peter

Post by Jack Edwards // Aug 14, 2008, 10:01am

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If the marks are faulty and they affect the students admissions, in the US they would have a case to sue. Could be big money too. The difference between a college education and non-college education is millions over a person's life time. That's a rather large liability for the testing board if they are at fault. And if they are conspiring to cover up a fraud that could be a criminal liability as well...

Post by Délé // Aug 14, 2008, 10:18am

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It's really unfortunate in this day in age, when bureaucracy gets in the way of really teaching the kids. Having gotten to know you from the forums over the years Paul, I'm certain that you are one of the really good teachers. It sucks when ridicules stuff like this demoralizes both the students and the teachers.

Last year, I looked up my old 5th grade teacher. Best teacher I ever had. His name is Mr. Giorgi. I sent him an email after all of these years letting him know how much I appreciated him going out of his way to make learning fun. He not only wanted us to learn, but he wanted us to enjoy it too. He really went out of his way to engage us and get us excited about learning.

Unfortunately when he wrote back, he mentioned that after almost 20 years of teaching, he had decided to hang it up. The "No Child Left Behind" act made him feel like his hands were tied. Teaching became less about inspiring the students to learn, and all about getting them to memorize names and dates like robots.

I feel bad that no more kids are going to get to experience Mr. Giorgi's class. He's the one that got me interested in art. Obviously had a big impact on me. He went way above and beyond what teacher was required to do, just to make class engaging and interesting for us students.

Your news here Paul makes me think of all that. You are obviously one of those teachers that really enjoys getting the kids engaged in learning. I just can't help but feel bad for the kids when this kind of bureaucratic crap gets in the way of TRUE education. :(

Post by rrf // Aug 14, 2008, 10:27am

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I agree with Jack - bringing in the news media sounds like the best idea, once a little 'light' is thrown on the subject for the population to see, things might just turn around. Just my 2 cents.


rf

Post by Norm // Aug 14, 2008, 10:34am

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This thing used to happen to me in school. They called it the "bell curve" scenario. Marks were adjusted to bring everyone closer to the middle area. Those at real high end and real low end hardly moved but those inbetween had marks lowered or raised.

Post by splinters // Aug 14, 2008, 10:40am

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Cheers guys. You are right, I am very passionate about my teaching as I am about design in general. We will let the examination board look into this but if they do not budge then I am going to get the exam papers back and then take it further. As the sole teacher of the subject, all results reflect on my teaching and after 15 years of successful teaching this simply stinks!


Rayman, I appreciate your words but the point here is that it is almost impossible that these students would all fail to grade. It is not about accepting they might have done their best but 'failed', it is about something very suspicious in the marking/assessment by the board.

Post by splinters // Aug 14, 2008, 10:46am

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This thing used to happen to me in school. They called it the "bell curve" scenario. Marks were adjusted to bring everyone closer to the middle area. Those at real high end and real low end hardly moved but those inbetween had marks lowered or raised.


There are a few 'non-english' speaking students in that group Norm who often struggle with written work and some straight A guys. They all failed to grade and there were very few marks between any of them.

You would think they had not sat the (3 hour) exam!!

Post by RAYMAN // Aug 14, 2008, 11:28am

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Rayman, I appreciate your words but the point here is that it is almost impossible that these students would all fail to grade. It is not about accepting they might have done their best but 'failed', it is about something very suspicious in the marking/assessment by the board.


I know Paul but most important is that you know that its not your fault

or any of the students.If you can track it down to what went wrong.It would help. I think you have the right to know why !

Peter

Post by Finis // Aug 14, 2008, 1:46pm

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Something is definitely wrong with the grading. It seems impossible that a whole class of students would do well all year and then suddenly do much worse. It is either a rogue grader like you wrote earlier or the test or grading standards have changed to something unreasonable.


Can you get a copy of the test and the standards for grading? You could see if the test and the standards are reasonable.


Did the same person grade all your students' work?


Why were their coursework scores adjusted?


At least you still have grades. There are some here trying to remove any kind of measurement of results or performance. Of course measurements must be done correctly and honestly to have value. Terrible that the admin. people care more about protecting each other that about these kids.


My sister was a teacher here in the U.S. She retired early, at reduced pension, due to negative changes in the schools. The teachers were no longer allowed to maintain order in the classrooms. Very disruptive troublesome kids couldn't be sent to special classes or special schools and made it difficult for the good students. The admin. staff wouldn't support the teachers. The nature of the courses and textbooks changed for the worse too.

Post by splinters // Aug 14, 2008, 2:19pm

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I agree...it is very suspect. I guess one person graded all the papers. If nothing shows up after an investigation to check for clerical errors, we have to have the papers remarked or we can request the paper back with a mark scheme to see how it has been marked.


As for the coursework there are two elements;


1. A year long design and make assignment where they all had their marks adjusted very slightly (less than 4% either way), this left them all as predicted..three of four getting an A.


2. A 2000 word Product Study where they look at a design issue and manufacturing issue of a product. All did very well and most turned in better studies than last year which often received around 90%. Whoever marked them obviously took a dislike to us as they adjusted them over 40% down.

I have no idea why but have never seen such adjustments. If I were marking these and had to change a mark of 100% to 56% I would be flagging that centre up as having real problems...we don't have problems!


I remain completely bewildered by events today...it is almost like we got someone elses marks!

Post by W!ZARD // Aug 14, 2008, 8:03pm

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My commiserations Paul - it's always distressing when the good guys get affected by the actions of the bad guys. I've seen the largest Electricity Retail company in New Zealands history brought to a crashing halt, over 4000 people made redundant etc, etc all because some knob in an office had a bad day and didn't tick the right check box.


Sadly, bureaucratic compliance requirements and good old fashioned human nature mean that the education of millions can be affected by poor policies (as I'm sure you have direct experience of).


I curtailed my own foray into the world of teaching due to similar education department focus on the education department rather than those being educated.


Having learned so much from you via these forums I have first hand experience of your teaching capabilities - and for your students to receive exam results like these is completely illogical in the face of that experience.


I don't know what I can do from the other side of the world but at least please know this - I have total faith in you, your ability to teach and the absolute commitment to your job. What ever support and encouragement I am able to offer is yours.

Post by Burnart // Aug 14, 2008, 8:31pm

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Doesn't make me wish I was still teaching that's for sure.

How's this for a bad day - its Friday, weekend coming up, gotta put petrol in the car, bill to pay weekly grocery shopping to do but not a cent on me. So I went to get some cash out of the cash machine and it SWALLOWED MY CARD!! #$#@& :mad:

Post by splinters // Aug 14, 2008, 11:34pm

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It's bad...but I have at least two kids here that may lose their University place and cannot organise accomodation for next year until they find out.


Happiest say of their academic life........I don't think so.


Hope you get your card back. I have ten pounds here I can lend you...can you reach?

Post by stan // Aug 15, 2008, 4:45am

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There was a time back in school the provincial government here decided to fail or try to( I passed barely) with us kids in a certain course by changing the curiculum for the exam last minute so no one had learned most of what was on the exam. Aside from it making the years in that course a waste of time for many students, the thing I remember most about that experience is my teacher fighting for us all the way. Sadly he couldn't convince the government to reconcider, but he will remain the best teacher I ever had for trying, he cared.

Post by Igor K Handel // Aug 16, 2008, 2:12am

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Back in my days as a student at "the Royal Academy of music" in London, we often used to help the proffessors marking theory papers for the Associated Board of music theory grading system here in the UK.


Similar to Norm's leveling of overall results, we were told to adjust marks if too close to a pass or a fail. All the questions had only one correct answer yet even if the pupil gave the correct answer if the overall marks for their paper were too close to a fail (but still on the pass side) and the overall average of all national papers was too many passes, we were told to deduct marks and fail the pupil!! Stank to high Heaven!!


IK

Post by splinters // Aug 16, 2008, 2:24am

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Thanks for the kind word of support. I feel much better today...:D
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