School children and your TeacherIt's fair to say it hasn't been easy the past few months. Forced by the Classroom and in online lessons in March, education has since fluctuated from one crisis to the next, improving student learning across the country.
From free school meals to laptops, class bladders and tests, the government has consistently lagged behind and the abuse has led to a number of calls for resignation.
One of the most controversial issues, exam grading, was that thousands of students' scores were downgraded from school ratings last summer after using an algorithm to determine their grades – a decision that caused a great stir and a U-turn from Ofqual, the exam supervisors, so they could use the teachers' predictions.
The government has since decided to cancel the A-Level and GCSE exams in England as the second wave of coronavirus sets in, months after Wales and Scotland announced similar plans.
Instead of the traditional exams, this year A-Level and GCSE scores are decided by teacher-graded grades and, in some cases, external mini-exams. However, students have raised concerns about how easily others can bypass the rules of cheating.
"I moved from public school to high school for sixth grade so my teachers don't know me that well, which I should have considered for UCAS references," said one student wrote in the learning forum The Student Room.
"I haven't had any ridicule … They were all at the end of the unit reviews where a lot of people cheat on their phones. At this point, I'm so above our government that I go back and forth with exams and this clearly reflects a lot Problems with the overall predicted grading system, ”they added, hoping that there would be an opportunity to retake the exams in the future.
“The mockery of our school should be next week, but it can't happen now. So I worry if we took online exams a lot of students would cheat while some of us want to get them honest about all of our revisions, ”said Ella, an 11th grade student at Wimbledon High School The independent one.
"A lot of my friends didn't perform as well as they wanted over the past year due to the suspension of the initial ban. So they wanted to use these exams as an opportunity to improve their predicted grades."
The technological constraints resulting from the need to keep students apart are ripe for exploitation.
Ella's school was unable to monitor the time students spent on an assessment carried out through Google Docs or online forms, and there was no need to submit photos as evidence of work completed .
Another 11th grade student who chose to remain anonymous raised similar concerns. Grade 10 students appeared to have been able to take their summer exams without preventing fraud, and students "had easy access to notes, audit guides and the Internet during the exam".
“In November, there were similar problems with our 11th grade linguistic ridicule, as our grade group had to self-isolate and the exams were held through Microsoft teams. This meant it was easy for the students to keep their textbook and vocabulary pages open during the exam, ”the student continued.
Finding ways to prevent fraud posed major challenges for schools across the country. Some institutes suggested having a parent or guardian present during the exam and ensuring that students' desks are kept completely clear to "ensure that the exams are as realistic as possible".
While some students are likely to benefit from an inadequate testing system, others simply fear that the difficulties of studying online will cause their grades to suffer compared to other years.
“Personally, I think this was largely due to the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming exams in 2021, which made the predicted grades (based on taunting) significantly more important. There were concerns that poor performance on the mock exams would mean lower overall predicted grades, ”said one student.
"Distance learning, in particular, made the situation more stressful and potentially encouraged more cheating as it was much more difficult to prevent."
Caitlin, another 11th grade student, said she missed the feeling of missing the opportunity to "prove myself and show that I am capable of getting the higher grades," and there was one “50/50” split between students with consistent grades Those who are satisfied with the teacher's assessment and others who are concerned about more shy students will be penalized for an apparent lack of participation and for problems with teachers who are having difficulties Participate students in video calls.
On January 4th, the Ministry of Education said that it "realized (sed) that this is an anxious time for students who have been working hard on their exams."
Michael Gove, former Minister of Education and current Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said the government will “take alternative precautions to ensure that students work hard to acquire knowledge and develop their skills appropriately valued, recognized and honored. "
Students talk to The independent oneHowever, I have had some issues with how the government handled education during the coronavirus.
"School has been difficult because of the sudden changes the government is making," Ella said. "There's not much support, but mostly because our teachers don't know much about the situation or how we're being tested fairly."
The Prime Minister should have “canceled exams much earlier than was the case in Scotland and Wales. The teachers could have tested us more and gathered more evidence, ”Caitlin said.
Simon Lebus, Ofqual's Interim Chief Regulatory, said there were "challenges" in transitioning from exams to teacher-graded grades.
"We need to make sure that the grades assessed by the teacher accurately reflect the skills, knowledge and understanding their students have acquired, and there are all sorts of problems in ensuring that people evaluate their students' work in the same way as between Schools in different regions and so on, "he told the BBC Radio 4 Prime Minister on January 6th.
"There has to be some method of moderating the teacher-assessed grades and that is a big part of the challenge of this exercise because I think that in reality you have to use a combination of different pieces of evidence – you will be using classroom interactions, you "When doing homework, use mock exams. There are many ways to measure a student's performance."
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said The independent one: "If schools plan to hold mock exams online, we are sure that it would be done with appropriate safeguards such as strict schedules for each job and with the intention of supporting learning during this difficult time."
Problems with online exams are not unique to the UK. Students in the United States were subjected to tight remote surveillance, with online supervisors monitoring students to make sure they were not being scammed.
Clayton Stott, a math teacher in Leeds who enables over 200 students to retake GCSE exams, said The independent one that he would not "read too much of submitted work" and that even if the students had cheated, "hopefully some of the information will come in".
He added that he would not try bogus exams virtually as it was a "minefield" and "just unreliable and an ineffective use of staff time".
“My focus at the moment is more on engagement than on evaluation. I feel that with strong teaching and an understanding of misunderstandings, hopefully there won't be too many knowledge gaps by the time we're back in the classroom, ”he added.
Such a debate raises questions about what type of exam will actually benefit students. Some schools have used alternative class models B. Group projects and open-book texts that they claim are more realistic for the job market that the students will eventually enter.