Originally posted on Rethinking-Ed:
In this post I argue that compulsory GCSEs for all, which means enforced failure for some, is profoundly unethical. I also outline an alternative model for secondary school assessments.
Educational assessment is like a festival of abstract jargon, so please bear with me. As far as I can gather, when people sit an exam you can set grade boundaries in three main ways: criterion-referenced, norm-referenced and cohort-referenced testing.
An example of criterion-referenced testing is the driving test. There are a number of predefined criteria – don’t crash etc – and if you meet enough of them, you pass, and if you don’t, you fail. Another example is music grades. In the UK, music exams are graded from 1 to 8, with grade 8 being the level required for entry to music college. Some school-based assessments are criterion-referenced also, such as Key Stage 2 SATs and the International Baccalaureate (IB)…