A-Level must return to traditional standards

Death knell for dumbed-down A-levels: Exam chief admits qualification must return to traditional standard

By Tara Brady
PUBLISHED: 11:23, 29 April 2012 | UPDATED: 12:05, 29 April 2012

The head of the exam watchdog has sounded the death knell for A-levels in its current form amid fears it has created a generation of students struggling to cope with degree-level work.

Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, has admitted for the first time that public confidence must be restored in the A-level following a decade of grade inflation.

It means the current two-part qualification, which was introduced 12 years ago, could be scrapped in favour of making students sit all their exams at the end of their courses.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Ms Stacey said: ‘If you look at the history, we have seen persistent grade inflation for these key qualifications for at least a decade.

‘The grade inflation we have seen is virtually impossible to justify and it has done more than anything, in my view, to undermine confidence in the value of those qualifications.

‘We have found that there is a strong and persistent view from universities that the modular approach to A-levels is not achieving what it needs to, that the parts don’t add up to the whole.’

Education Secretary Michael Gove appointed Glenys Stacey last year

Thousands of students are about to sit their AS-levels, which are taken by students a year before their A-levels.

Ms Stacey was appointed by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, last year.

She has previously said that rising results were down to young people working hard and being taught well.

However, her recent comment is the first sign yet that the qualification will be reformed.

A review of the national curriculum and exam system is being carried out by the government following suggestions it has been ‘dumbed down’.

Modular exams, which pupils can resit a number of times, have been criticised by experts and teachers as being easier to pass.

The regulator will consult on proposals over the summer with an intention to ditch the AS-level.

A report will also be published next month comparing the British exam system with countries including Canada, China, the Netherlands, Finland, South Korea and New Zealand.

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