This A-grade exams fiasco highlights many issues

31st August 2012 at 01:00

The loss of confidence in our exam system will not be resolved while politicians are able to influence qualification awards through their executive arms of Ofqual and Ofsted ("Pressure mounts as 'good' GCSEs drop for the first time", 24 August).

A sound qualification system starts with agreed standards at paper or question level, which are consistently set and checked year on year to ensure comparable quality with set grade boundaries. Once students have sat the exams, they should be graded on what they have achieved and the outcome should be left to reflect the actual performance of the cohort without the nefarious exercise of normalisation.

Every cohort is different and it should be possible for a cohort of students to range from 0 to 100% achievement in any year. Outcomes should be published as they actually are, even if that gives variable outcomes year on year.

The obsession with comparative outcomes and the political benefits of grade inflationdeflation have destroyed a world-leading system. You may as well just award grades dependent on postcode and have done with it.

My school has suffered from this year's debacle. There are no "standards" anymore, just fences determined by politicians that schools have to jump. Schools are demoralised, students and parents are confused and the general public is locked in a hegemonic discourse of failure and dumbing down of exam standards. We need a national consensus to address this.

Paul Norman, Deputy headteacher, Dorset.

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