16 December 2010

Loss of Scholarship

Student loans/grants/fees are in the news: the background doesn't need to be rehearsed here.

One aspect that isn't addressed is the scholarship aspect of student grants.

There was a time - before 1987 - when A-level students were assessed in a normative manner. The A-level results for the whole country were collated and from that the pass grades were calculated. That is, if ten percent of the population got sixty percent or above, the pass mark for a grade A was sixty percent or above. One year the pass mark for a grade A may have been seventy-five percent or above, another year it may have been eighty percent or above. This method of moving goal posts meant that your results were linked to how well the rest of the country did in the exam.

If you got a student grant and free tuition on the basis of this assessment criteria you were effectively given a scholarship.

Post 1987 the assessment method changed from the normative one described above to a criteria assessment. If you fulfilled certain criteria you were deemed to have attained a particular grade.

I can see the argument for the virtues of criteria assessment rather than normative assessment.

However, why can't normative assessment run in parallel to criteria assessment?

In this way the best in the country can receive scholarships - full grant and free tuition - from the State?

The people who would be capable of getting normative A grades and similar are the ones who are being cheated in the current arrangement.

See "A-levels worse than useless for a similar post to the above.

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