In March, 2012 PACE highlighted the difficulty faced by Education Minister John O’Dowd when Michael Gove announced a move away from modular GCSEs, which had been discredited and devalued over the years as a result of grade inflation.
Michael Gove moved decisively to bring about change but John O’Dowd rejected outright the proposals for Northern Ireland pupils thereby potentially relegating CCEA qualifications as inferior should the pupil be transferred to an English school or apply to a mainland university.
In October, 2012 after realising that serious repercussions would become a reality for N. Ireland pupils, highlighted by the latest GCSE exams blunder, Mr O’Dowd announces his solution - a review by CCEA. Readers will recall that CCEA is led by Gavin Boyd, the pending chief executive of the Education & Skills Authority but current chief of CCEA and the Belfast Education & Library Board.
CCEA is hardly best placed to conduct any review of the examination system since it it also the regulator. The regulator is responsible for ensuring the quality and standards of the examinations system. No doubt the predetermined outcome of any CCEA review will allow Gavin Boyd to position himself as the leader of a world class 21st century education system.
Perhaps Mr Boyd should pay more attention to Ofqual – a body not easily swayed by exams boards who also act as self-regulators
February 27, 2012
On Friday February 24th, 2012 CCEA issued a Press Release after Ofqual announced that GCSEs in English Literature, Maths, History and Geography would be made more rigorous. This statement contrasts with Education Minister, John O’Dowd’s recent statement that CCEA would not follow the English model. Clearly fears over the equivalence issue have resulted in a rapid rethink.
December 8, 2011
The Daily Telegraph failed to mention CCEA, the Northern Ireland exams body which is also the regulator for Northern Ireland. What confidence can parents, pupils and the public have in this conflict of interest in the provision of qualifications?
Glenys Stacey said the regulator would be
“looking in detail at just these possible conflicts of interests in the provision of qualifications”.
And she outlined a number of sanctions available to Ofqual including pulling “examinations set for January and for next summer with awarding bodies providing substitute scripts”.
The examinations watchdog Ofqual has been sleeping while different awarding bodies have prepared examination papers placed before thousands of pupils this year laden with mistakes and cruelly containing questions impossible to answer. The warning issued by Ofqual, describing the situation as
“disappointing and unacceptable”.
The exams watchdog Ofqual has warned exams bodies to double check test papers to avoid mistakes that disrupted three A level tests this year.
The English, Welsh and Northern Ireland exams bodies have been told that recent mistakes in question papers were “disappointing and unacceptable”. but the warning comes too late for this years pupils and underscores the lax accountability relationship between the watchdog, the regulators and the various examination bodies.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13703784
CCEA, headed up by Gavin Boyd, claimed that none of the papers containing mistakes came from them. * See update http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13714383
With the Northern Ireland regulator Roger McCune working inside the same organisation and building as the examination body CCEA there can be no excuse for the further failures. When will the accountability of the Assembly kick in?
February 5, 2011
The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education wish to draw attention to parents of an alternative mechanism for requesting a re-marking of the GL Assessment tests conducted by the PPTC schools. The tests are multiple choice and marked by inserting the answer sheet into an Optical Mark Reader (OMR)
Instructions on remarking are provided by the PPTC as demonstrated via the Ballymena Academy website.
Parents may wish to contact CCEA, the Northern Ireland Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment and request that the official regulator of exams put their child’s test paper through their “Chemistry Exam Special” OMR machine. After all there is no independent body utilized by the PPTC to verify the work of GL Assessment.
Ofqual in their reports into the latest blunder by CCEA made the following information available on how Caitriona Ruane’s specialist organisation treated computer-marked tests last year.
Now since the PPTC fail to explain to parents on behalf of GL Assessment (a) that the computer can only produce an exact same response every time the answer sheet is fed into it and (b) any adjustment to a score can only represent an intervention by a human and would therefore require an explanation of how the error was not detected in the first instance - there is little point in requesting a remark. However it seems that CCEA adjusted the grades and marks of some pupils in an upward direction but no mention is made of the treatment of those pupils who were awarded marks incorrectly.
February 4, 2011
Tomorrow thousands of pupils from throughout Northern Ireland will be awaiting the results of their tests for a place in a grammar school. As predicted the BBC Nolan Show gave a platform for the Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane to emotionally terrorize young listeners and their parents. Having abdicated responsibility for measuring attainment in numeracy and literacy at primary school she has taken to venting her spleen at those who have demonstrated her irrelevance. It is clear that demand for places at grammar schools is as strong as ever and an equality of opportunity still exists for all who wish to do so to compete in a fair competition based on their numeracy and literacy attainment. Good luck to all those pupils.
As many parents will know there are two different tests offered by different schools (except for Victoria College, Belfast). One is marked as a script by teachers [AQE], the other is marked by a computer [GL Assessment] There has been no published information on which test is more valid and reliable but one must be. Last September PACENI highlighted a story on yet another series of errors by the Northern Ireland examinations body CCEA in which computer-based marking is used. The Education Minister must take responsibility for the failures of her regulated system that swallows £30 million per year while at the same time spending an inordinate amount of time and resources criticizing the unregulated tests.
This week Ofqual published two reports into the reasons behind mistakes which resulted in 935 out of 1024 candidates being awarded wrong scores.
PACE will be publishing an in-depth analysis of the Ofqual reports into CCEA. Please revisit the site for regular updates.
CCEA the subject organisation are not so keen to communicate the Ofqual reports.
September 13, 2010
While pupils and parents in Northern Ireland await a determination by Ofqual in the investigation of CCEAs failure in the A-level Chemistry debacle. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/ofqual-investigates-ccea-failure/ The Times Educational Supplement has revealed that grade boundaries were tweaked to avoid a glut of A*s.
The August 27th 2010 article www.tes.co.uk revealed that the practice involved an “artificial” devaluation of the exam marks in order to restrict the numbers of pupils gaining the new A* grade.
Ofquals statistical guidelines, based on last year’s results, suggested that 7 per cent of grades shoud be A* but the final proportion was 8.1 per cent.
In the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine some contributors were rather scathing of CCEAs product.
Of 14 different A-levels in which marks were devalued Chemistry accounted for 18 per cent of overall entries.
Can Ofqual therefore deliver an independent assessment of CCEAs failure or merely compound it?
September 2, 2010
Evidence of the inability of the Department of Education, Northern Ireland to achieve real improvement in numeracy and literacy outcomes comes via the press release by the DENI’s Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI).
The final section of the release states:
“A key element in any self-evaluative process is the quality of evidence on which the evaluations are based. A range of sources can be used in this process, including first-hand observation of learning and teaching and a thorough examination of the assessment data that the school or organisation collates. The more rigorous and honest such evaluations are, the more useful will be the outcomes, and these should be used as the basis for securing more effective teaching and learning and in raising the standards achieved by learners.”
Perhaps Stanley Goudie has missed news of the ongoing investigation by Ofqual of CCEA’s failure on A-level Chemistry results. The evidence quality is very high of CCEA’s failure in a quantative measure. 151 pupils were given the wrong results.
What has not be addressed by the local media is the obvious question; “How can wrong marks be given for a multiple choice question paper?
Answer: A software/programming failure.
Does CCEA have other recent evidence of such failure? Yes.
- the Incas Pupil Profile from the CEM at Durham University spat out inaccurate results last year resulting in ministerial, CCEA and University of Durham apologies and investigations. The result: a further commitment to Incas.
Instead of rejecting this flawed instrument the DENI have further cemented its use. One of the major proponents of Incas is Prof John Gardner of QUB. His Assessment for Learning group are advocates of the ETI self assessment programme. Professor Gardner was also the man behind the attacks on the 11-plus transfer test. His campaign and advice to the DENI have simply resulted in a deregulation of the tests.
When will the politicians actually hold to account the educationalists whose conduct of education reform in Northern Ireland is replete with flaws and failure?
September 1, 2010
Ofqual http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/are investigating a complaint about CCEA’s handling of this years A-Level Chemistry results. For once CCEA will not have the final word in investigating their own shortcomings. The Education Minister must consider whether the appointment of Gavin Boyd to chief executive of CCEA marks him out as the right man to fall on his sword.
Ofqual may investigate complaints about awarding organisation malpractice without requiring the awarding organisation’s complaint procedures to have been completed.
The Belfast Telegraph have picked up a PA/Reuters article but as usual no commenting is permitted by readers. An explanation is required as to why the BT education correspondent did not pick up and publish the Ofqual investigation herself
August 27, 2010
Yes – you did read this headline correctly.
In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement (TES) Isabel Nisbet, chief executive of Ofqual she said that there had been a “collective falling short of the standards that young people and teachers have a right to expect”.
The Ofqual chief also stated “
“More work is needed to toughen up the qualification and rectify inconsistent standards between exam boards.”