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Pupils 'pass' language exam without speaking

Link: Pupils 'pass' language exam without speaking - Telegraph.

I know the main thesis of libertarianism is too tough for most people to accept. We have been conditioned by 60 years of Socialist government to believe that a caring society requires a powerful state. Indeed, most of us hopelessly confuse "society" and "state," assuming that every power given to government will be used skilfully and in good faith. Even if you can't accept that there should - as a matter of principle - be severe limits to state power, perhaps you can accept that there are areas in which the state is simply incompetent? Perhaps we can, case by miserable case, scale back state power?

If exams were set by competing private companies, they would need to be credible in order to build a brand. Some people might - of course - elect to take EaziExam Limited's "chav special" papers, just as some people will (amazingly) buy a Lada. However, everyone would know what such a qualification was worth, when compared with the competing ToughCorp product.

Politicians running a state education system should obviously not be in charge of monitoring its performance. It's simple common sense. If they are, they are bound to rig the statistics. Could  anyone really be so naieve as to expect otherwise? Yet that is the situation in Britain. Through its control of the National Curriculum the Education Ministry has now engineered a situation where you can get an EaziExam® qualification in French, without having written a single French sentence or having been subjected to the "stress" of uttering a word of the language to a stranger. The situation is no better in other subjects. But, unless you attend a private school working towards independent qualifications such as the International Baccalaureate, you have no "ToughCorp" option.

We can argue all day (if you are buying the drinks) about whether the state has a place in certifying the accuracy of petrol pumps or in lecturing children about the dangers of drugs. You may find it hard to accept my view that there is no need for a state education system at all. But surely you must agree that setting exams is outside its competence?


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The Remittance Man

Well, there might be an argument (and I stress might) if the state didn't run the schools. Exams ad their results are, after all a method of assessing the effectiveness of the education system. So the state might run the schools sytem OR the exam system. But to run both leads toa serious conflict of interest.

By the way, personally I think the government should be involved in neither beyond, perhaps, to serve as a cheque writing service for a universal school voucher system.

Heather Yaxley

I'm marking University first year papers at the moment and want to weap at the lack of understanding of a sentence, let alone how to make a logical and reasoned argument. Face to face, the students are articulate and understand the subject, but they've clearly never been "stressed" by the type of contructive instruction or positive criticism that would have ensured they were maximising their talents in presenting a written argument by now.

Tristan Mills

When I took GCSE's and 'A'-levels (11 and 9 years ago respectively) there were differences between exam boards and even courses offered by the same boards.

I was lucky enough to attend a school where academic achievement was valued, not just getting lots of high grades on easy exams, so often, especially at 'A'-level we took harder courses.
This wouldn't mean much on your CV, but to a University, especially in the relevant course, it could make the difference between a place or not.

I suspect the government is trying to homogenise the exams though and even that little discrimination between courses will disappear.

John East

"....unless you attend a private school...."

Don't worry. Nulab are working to close this loophole.

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