« On woke capitalism | Main | Empirical vs fantasy politics »

August 15, 2020



> And it would have embodied a principle of equality of opportunity, as it would reward students for their own efforts and abilities and not have punished them for going to poor-performing schools.

It'd punish them for going to well-performing schools instead.

A student who would be in the top 5% at a poorly-performing school but only in the top 15% at a well-performing school would receive better grades in the former, even though the education there would presumably be worse.


How do you propose this would work in the parts of the country where the state school system is selective?


lots of flack for the A level results, and I don't have any dogs in this fight this year, but ...

As I understand it, the algorithm basically took last years results and asked each school to replay them this year, selecting the order for the pupils, so if you had a class last year with A*, A, B, C, D, E, and you have a class of 6 again this year, then you get to rank your class and the grades are applied. Hence, I don't really understand how this punishes poor schools other than repeating last year's punishment. Surely a lot of 'the system screwed me' is actually 'my teachers screwed me'. And while I get that twitter is more likely to be full of people going 'I should have got an A and I got a D' and unlikely to be full of people going 'I should have got a D and got an A!', overall it is not possible to screw everyone and yet maintain overall standards.

The problem with your 10% of each school is it creates a perverse incentive. Our local comp was never that great but has gone down hill. A particularly poor head pushed for more mainstream pupils so all the bright ones leave after GCSEs and go to much better schools for sixth form where they get a better education. If you are now going to award places per school then you create a perverse incentive for pupils to head to the worst schools. Is that what you intend?


"It'd punish them for going to well-performing schools instead."

What's the least worse option. Punishing the poor or the wealthy? Are we supposed to be levelling up under this 'one nation' gov'?


How would this treat grammar schools? If a school has selected by intellect and has omly admitted students in the top 25% of ability, would it give grades the same way?

Dave Timoney

@Jeremy, "It'd punish them for going to well-performing schools instead."

That's a feature, not a bug. Chris is proposing this as a one-off, but clearly one reason why it hasn't been publicly discussed is that such an experiment would likely become permanent by popular (if not media) demand.

Were we to use a quota system like Texas, middle class parents would be incentivised to send their kids to the local comp, not to a private school. This will not be discussed because it might mean the end of Eton.


@dipper that's kind of it, but it's not quite that simple.

You can see this by looking at how different schools have done relative to historic performances.

Smaller schools/class sizes have done better.

I understand this is because the algorithm gives more weight to teacher predicted grades (as opposed to rankings) in smaller classes. The thinking being that there's more chance of a small class being below or above average.

This has advantaged private schools who tend to have more small classes.


«Were we to use a quota system like Texas, middle class parents would be incentivised to send their kids to the local comp, not to a private school.»

Indeed it would mean that parents could not buy the "merit" for their children of attending an "independent" cram-school, which are known to give a "leg up" (as D Cameron called it) of around a full grade wrt most state school, so a denial of "meritocracy".

That would be COMMUNISM! :-)


«the top 10 per cent of students from each school be admitted to Texan state universities.»

Even if many texan state universities have a good reputation, "independent", that is for example Ivy League schools, are not required to follow that, so the "merit" of having parents that can afford paying for cram-school fees and Ivy ague fees is still operative.

The english equivalent would be to example the Russell Group universities from the 10% requirement.

james c

That's not hard to game. You could set up a school for idiots - the top 8.9% of the idiots would get an A*.

The intelligent would, of course, pretend to be idiots, so you would have to weed them out.

Maybe you could have mocks and expel anyone who was any good/

Ralph Musgrave

Chris asks "So, why do we so often see those with a vested interest in preserving class hierarchies profess a form of radicalism?" Should have thought the answer is obvious: virtue signalling.

Virtue signalling has been going on since the World began. In Jesus's day the Scribes and Pharisees were famous for it.


Well, the Texas system might make our university access more meritocratic. But even that system seems to be gamed on both sides - the natural human tendency to gain an advantage.

The present brouhaha seems to be brought about by having to use guesswork and then piling further guesswork on top. Surely it would have been wiser of Ofqual to have stepped back and said 'we keep the data raw - caveat emptor'.

Certainly had this sort of 'no exams - guess - clean up the data' exercise been repeated a few times we might have some handle on how to make it 'fairer'. But the present circumstance is a one-off and merely opens the door to the sharp elbowed 'doing a Full Karen'. Better never to have opened that door.


some legal action seems to be going ahead.


the letter is, ahem, quite interesting. Section 6 seems to specifically rule out simply replaying last year's exam results.

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad