Michael Gove: failing the test
The new CSE would predominantly be a certificate of the north and the poorer classes.
The headlines proclaimed that Michael Gove was bringing back the O-level, but the real significance of Thursday's story was that he is reinventing the old CSE – the little-lamented qualification sat by youngsters not deemed to be up to the "ordinary" standard.
The education secretary harbours a mixture of reactionary and reasonable impulses about public examinations. For better or worse, he can advance them all within the universally sat GCSE. There is, as he suspects, some reason to think that there has been grade inflation, stoked by rival exam boards competing for market share.
But one could perfectly well sort this out by moving towards a single assessment authority for each subject within the current system. More dubiously, he favours all-or-nothing written tests in silent school halls over more meandering coursework which might encourage longer trips to the library. Barring Mr Gove's own chosen career of newspaper columnist, there are few vocations where the defining ability is wielding a pen under panic conditions.
The mix between different modes of assessment, however, is a question of balance, and that balance can and has been adjusted within the GSCE. Indeed, Mr Gove has already rewritten the rules to discourage modular tests that can be endlessly resat.
Read more ... (The Guardian - 21 June)