Today I was sent this:
It purports to be a briefing sheet used by an AQA advisor to justify the movement of controlled assessment grade boundaries in this summer’s GCSE English exam (otherwise referred to as the GCSE fiasco.) I can’t vouch for its provenance beyond saying that it was emailed to me from a Head of English at another school who I have no reason to believe would have sent her time inventing fake documents. But you never know.
Now, the arguments about grade boundaries have been rehashed endlessly over the past few months and I have little to add to that debate here. No, the only contentious item in this missive is the fact that AQA appear to be saying that they need to shift boundaries in case students gain an unfair advantage due to having decent teachers. The, not entirely unreasonable, premise would appear to be that if a teacher is “familiar with the specification and its requirements” they will be “better able to teach candidates in a way that helps them to meet the assessment criteria”.
Well, duh! Isn’t that the main reason teachers become examiners or moderators? Isn’t it a professional duty to be “familiar” with the exam specifications you teach? And since when has teaching well been an unfair advantage? Surely all teachers have an equal opportunity not to be shit?
I am, possibly, misinterpreting all this. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation which will, in due course, become clear to me. The alternative is that under the guise of rigour, exams are going to made increasingly mysterious: ignorance will be the new expertise.
So, help me out here, is teaching cheating?
And indeed, it turns out that all this is entirely true. Here’s a link to the same document on the AQA website.