Grades are hard to understand

17th September 2004 at 01:00
While analysing GCSE results for French and German for the AQA specification A syllabus I discovered a very interesting if somewhat distressing anomaly in the mark schemes. Why is it that a student scoring 1935 on the German foundation reading paper attains the maximum UMS score of 59 marks while a student scoring the same number of marks on the French foundation reading paper receives only 37 UMS marks?

In effect, it does not matter whether students score 1935 or 3535, they still attain the same UMS mark. These discrepancies between French and German occur in all foundation papers. Why has AQA made it easier for a student to achieve a better grade in German than in French?

Students and teachers have had their hard work undermined by an exam board, which thinks it appropriate to move the goal posts. Is this done to fulfil some predetermined pass rates, or merely to compound public perceptions of languages being difficult subjects?

In addition, it is already difficult enough to judge whether students should take the foundation or higher paper and this clearly further confuses the issue.

John Coley

Head of modern foreign languages

High Tunstall school, Hartlepool

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