A level exam results are out today and once again the percentage of students getting the top grade has increased, there will, as always, be a debate about whether there has been real improvement or just grade inflation.
This year there will almost certainly be fewer university places than there are young people who want to go to university, indeed there may be as many as 100,000 disappointed applicants. I believe that there has been serious grade inflation and the people who suffer most are the students themselves.
When the proportion of top graded students has almost trebled since 1980 it is harder for admissions tutors to asses students just on their academic aptitude. A levels no longer provide a scale of achievement, they have become a binary assessment, either you got straight As or you didn’t.
When every applicant to a university course has straight As assessors have to look for other things, extra curricular activities, other areas of achievement etc. It is often the case that private schools give more focus and have more facilities to support these extra activities so it is little wonder that students with top grades from state schools are disadvantaged at selections.
Having devalued both skills training and non-academic achievement we have created not just an “all must have prizes” mindset but an “all must have the same prizes” mindset.
I’m sure that there will be the usual rush to condemn those who feel that grade inflation has happened, accusations that we’re undermining the hard working young people who got the top grades. The truth is that by grading work as A grade when in the past it would have been a B grade you are undermining the students who genuinely worked hard enough (and were bright enough) to get a proper A grade.
Also let’s remember that a B grade is still a bloody good grade and shouldn’t been seen as some kind of failure, which is what is happening by the bloating of the A grade band.
P.S. I wonder if I’ll get in trouble for saying bloody?