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John Simkin

IB and A levels

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A study carried out by Professor Alan Smithers that in 1993 the pass rates of IB and A levels were both about the same. However, while the IB results have remained the same, A levels have improved by 20%.

In 1997 6.1% of A level candidates obtained three As. This figure has now reached 12.1%. In other words, it has virtually doubled since Labour came to power. Grade inflation on an example of Labour's outstanding education policies?

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I don't know the figures, John, but I seem to remember debates about the dumbing down on A Levels having been going on for a lot longer than that. I certainly feel that the exam papers my wife prepares her A level students for are rather less demanding than the IB exams our kids take...

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I don't know the figures, John, but I seem to remember debates about the dumbing down on A Levels having been going on for a lot longer than that. I certainly feel that the exam papers my wife prepares her A level students for are rather less demanding than the IB exams our kids take...

Anthony Seldon and David James writing in The Independent on July 14th this year observed that this was the 26th year in succession in which the pass rate had increased. So I think their Conservative predecesors must at least share some of the blame with New Labour, don't you?

There are some illustrations of this trend here. http://www.buckingham.ac.uk/education/rese...s/exams2005.pdf

Edited by Mike Tribe

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I don't know the figures, John, but I seem to remember debates about the dumbing down on A Levels having been going on for a lot longer than that. I certainly feel that the exam papers my wife prepares her A level students for are rather less demanding than the IB exams our kids take...

Anthony Seldon and David James writing in The Independent on July 14th this year observed that this was the 26th year in succession in which the pass rate had increased. So I think their Conservative predecesors must at least share some of the blame with New Labour, don't you?

I first taught A levels between 1977-1984. There were gradual improvements in 'A' level grades during this period. I mainly put that down to the fact that the school had previously been a secondary school and the comprehensive intake reached the sixth-form in 1978.

I returned to teaching A levels in 1994. I was shocked by the way that standards had fallen since 1984. I remember two of my students who got Es in 1979 would easily have obtained Bs in 1994. We also had students getting D and E who did not understand a word of it (as you could now predict the questions you gave them outline essays throughout the course). They then used these grades to get into university. Of course, we were not doing them any favours as they were dropping out after a year because the work was too difficult for them. I would be interested in any research that compared IB and A level students drop-out rates.

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