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    Dos_Box's Avatar
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    Blog: Cheating in school ICT and other subjects

    I have just been passed the link to this blog post on Computerworld UK , and, well, let's just say it makes interesting reading: Cheating in school ICT and other subjects - Spannerman's Edublog

    A lot of fuss is being generated this week following revelations by undercover Daily Telegraph reporters that Examination Boards are stepping over an imaginary line and giving inside information about upcoming exams to teachers who pay £200 to attend their day courses. An investigation is under way. I’ll save you the bother.
    For goodness sake, does anyone still think that the quarter of a century’s worth of year on year increase in the GCSEs and A level exam results was the result of good teaching and the hard work of pupils?

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Every time I see something written by this bloke it's ever more offensive than the last thing I saw. He's approaching Baroness Greenfield levels of professional trolling now.

    "Does anyone still think that the quarter of a century’s worth of year on year increase in the GCSEs and A level exam results was the result of good teaching and the hard work of pupils?" Yes - I do. The exams have been round long enough that teachers have a lot of expertise and experience of gaming the system. They're not necessarily better at teaching a subject, but they are better at teaching students to pass the exam, which sadly is all that modern secondary education has become in the name of targets. But that's a whole other, bigger subject, and one that'll never be resolved whilst politicians have direct influence over education in this country (and, to a large extent, the media and their tables).

    EDIT: to be fair, he does address this in the article. I still think he is being deliberately sensationalist though.

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    TechMonkey's Avatar
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    Surely once Exam Boards become commercial ventures without having to protect their certificate integrity this is inevitable. Exam boards want people to opt for their course and exams so they offer as much help as possible.
    No one looks at GCSE certificates and says "Ha, you got an A from XYZ Board everyone knows they are mickey mouse", you just got an A. If exam boards had to also defend their certifications to scrutiny then they would be tighter as schools might start being a bit choosier. Parents and Governors won't want their school to be seen as a soft touch and be using Exam Board XYZ, they will go with the well respected Board.

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    All pretty obvious stuff imo.

    It's all part of our current culture of trying to get every kid A's at GCSE, A's at A-Level, and then push them through a degree, whether that be a worth while degree or not, a academic degree or one in rock climbing (sorry outdoor activities, like that makes it better). The end result is summed up in his comment;

    all those A grades but don’t complain when no-one wants to employ their owners

    Only this morning I was talking to my colleague about the science GCSEs. We are only 8 years different in age yet I did "proper" exams, he did modular multiple choice. By all accounts my exams were easier than someone born 8 years before me. All that does is devalue all qualifications. Sooner or latter we'll end up with people with degrees working as cleaners... but with a nice £9k loan to pay back.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 8th December 2011 at 01:45 PM.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    For once, I think spannerman has it exactly right. As soon as there is a commercial incentive for people to cheat, or a 'league' to move up the ranks of, people will cheat.

    Schools cheat with their SATs tests, GCSEs, A-Levels etc... Simply because if they don't then their figures look bad in the league tables and everyone assumes its a bad school, and therefore send their kids elsewhere.

    Basically, education has become a game full of gimmicks, useless statistics and pointless exams and has in many cases simply lost track of what the point is - to teach kids how to survive when they leave school.

  6. 7 Thanks to localzuk:

    bossman (9th December 2011), gshaw (8th December 2011), j17sparky (8th December 2011), john (8th December 2011), Pyroman (8th December 2011), SimpleSi (8th December 2011), sparkeh (13th December 2011)

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    3s-gtech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by j17sparky View Post
    ... with a nice £9k loan to pay back.
    £9k?! if only

    This has hit History hard too, though being in Wales the exams are still unitised and they are being taught to the full spec here, so no problems. Heads will roll at the WJEC though...

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    what the point is - to teach kids how to survive when they leave school.
    Amen. In maths I was taught what x is but I was never taught any practical use for it such as working out mortgages. In IT I was taught how to use Office but I never learned anything which would get me a job in IT. In history I learned about the great depression but not about how our country elects it's leaders and how we make laws. In English I was taught all about Macbeth but not taught critical reading (although this has changed to some extent here). Wood work how to dick about with a saw but not mend a door. In cookery how to read the back of a packet and realise its unhealthy, but not taught the practical knowledge to do anything about it, ie cook myself a meal.
    Last edited by j17sparky; 8th December 2011 at 02:02 PM.

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    Are Finnish schools the best in the world? - Schools - Education - The Independent

    The teachers are not beset by targets, in fear of inspections or how well their schools do in league tables. There are simply no league tables or inspections. "They are academics and well trained, so we trust them," says Professor Lavonen. "This is an important feeling: they don't need any inspection. Also, we don't have a system of national testing. The teachers are trusted to assess their own pupils." This is presumably because there is no pressure to tweak the results to do well in league tables.

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    The real question is who needs to cheat in ICT to start with, really how hard is it to change a font or two given current curriculum trends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    They're not necessarily better at teaching a subject, but they are better at teaching students to pass the exam, which sadly is all that modern secondary education has become in the name of targets.
    And this is the crux of it. As long a you have exams, you will have people being taught to pass the exam rather than being taught how to apply the subject matter.

    A properly designed piece of coursework, which examines the process not the product can be just as 'secure' in terms of preventing plagiarism, and give much more scope for creativity.

  12. Thanks to SteveBentley from:

    gshaw (8th December 2011)

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    It doesn't just happen in schools though. Driving lessons get you through the test, not make you a brilliant driver. If we are talking about trade related tests then we have seen the lengths people go to when trying to cheat at MS / Cisco tests ... and re-accrediation in some areas is a laugh (PAT) and others are hard (Chartered status).

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    gshaw's Avatar
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    Some excellent comments here, well said localzuk and SteveBentley, as it stands you can pass the exams not knowing the subject that well but just a matter of playing the system and learning enough to get through. Was surprised to hear that some of the subjects do the exams at the end of each term so there's no overall summer one anymore?

    I feel the same way about MCSE and similar exams and I think employers have wised up to it somewhat now that the cert doesn't always mean you can solve real-world problems... completely different ball game to learning the various scenarios for the exams imo.

    As with the NHS, Policing and various other areas under Labour in the last 5-10 years the obsession with targets and statistics ended up with a much poorer service at the end, although the "figures" always suggest otherwise. Not getting political on it as other parties could well do the same but that method definitely hasn't worked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by localzuk View Post
    Basically, education has become a game full of gimmicks, useless statistics and pointless exams and has in many cases simply lost track of what the point is - to teach kids how to survive when they leave school.
    the rot set in when they started putting too much ICT in schools..... Damn this expensive gimmickery. Jeremy Clarkson as Minister for Education, Transport, EU, Home Office and Foreign Office is our only hope..... (Not).

    presumably the year on year improvements in results are all down to cheating and that the technology, improvements in teaching materials, better access to educational materials, better teacher training, etc count for nothing? Lot of disrespect there to teachers, authors, support staff, students etc.

    There is hope. Together SpannerMan and the Media (and Jeremy Clarkson of course) will save education.....

    Now, can anyone explain how to go about doing cryptic crosswords or would that be cheating?

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    Trapper's Avatar
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    This has been going on for years in one form or another.

    Back in the late 90s my GCSE History teacher told the entire class he'd chosen a London based exam board as their exams were aimed towards pupils whose English was a second language. Hence they marked according to that assumption, so a bunch of white working class kids from the Shires would get better marks, than if he'd chosen another one.

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    jdoyle's Avatar
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    there's been twaddle uttered about UK exams for a lot longer than that.

    One of the downsides to the way that the education sector has developed is the number of people working in it who don't actively contribute to the grades that many kids do work very hard for.

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