Tag Archives: Mickey Mouse Degrees

GCSE Results… Same old?


An economy in trouble prints more and more money and by doing so devalues the currency  which ultimately becomes worthless.

An education system in trouble prints more and more GCSEs, A-Levels and degree certificates.

The diagram above (for those who did not pay attention at school) is a Standard Distribution curve.

This type of curve represents all sorts of phenomena – especially to do with people. For instance, here in the United Kingdom we might want to look at salaries and how many people earn lots, how many earn very little etc. In that case, the curve might be called a distribution of salaries.

As you can see , the green-coloured area on the diagram represents the majority of us who earn either side of the average wage, the blue areas represent those who earn either a little bit more or a little bit less and the red areas show the lucky ones who earn lots or the very unlucky ones who earn very little.

Intelligence and academic ability also follow this type of distribution. We are not all Einsteins and at the other end of the scale – we are not all morons. Most of us are either side of average.

That brings me to today’s annual GCSE debate and the attendant mantras. : “They’re getting easier.”  ” Too many A-grades.” etc.

The figures in white represent the percentage of students that one would roughly expect to score the grades shown from A to F.  (With A, B and some C-grades being University material)

At one end, we show a small area in red and (in white figures) roughly the percentage of students that (statistically) we would (statistically) expect to score an A-grade : the very clever ones.  The equivalent on the right shows the E-grade.  Those are the not-so-bright students who just scrape through.

At the far end (on the right), we have the students that  you would expect to fail. I’ve classified them as “F” but nowadays, they are designated as “U” or “unclassified”. What we used to call thick.

Those are the extremes but you can see that most are in the green and blue zones.

That’s not just statistics – that’s life.

The figures in black along the bottom of the above diagram represent the actual percentage of students who have scored  particular  grades in the last few years. There is a substantial difference between the expected  (white) and the actual (black).

It appears that there are very few (normal) average students these days – the ones you would expect to make-up the majority of the population.

This year’s A-level results suggested that about 75%  or three in four students  are average or above average.

Academics are arguing (quite rightly) that it is difficult to distinguish between clever and exceptionally clever students.

The “experts'” solution was to introduce the A* grade for marks in excess of 90%.

Why not simply “redistribute” existing grades and have an A-grade which is for results of say, 85% and above or maybe 90% and above. Thisd is finally being done but for political reasons, progress HAS to be slow.

The primary issue is that it is  difficult to distinguish between average students and the terminally stupid ones.  The system is not sensitive enough.

Incidentally, if we are  to use the terms “bright” , “clever” and “gifted” we should not be afraid to use adjectives such as “stupid” and “thick”. Otherwise, the morons with degress will have a nasty surprise when they leave the comfort of the “University of false hope” and shuffle into the workplace or more likely, the dole queue.

Firstly, it is not the fault of the students who appear to be over-achieving and who are not really bright enough to attend what is nowadays called “University”.

The combination of aspirational parents, ambitious headteachers, dubious teaching methods, spurious subject matter and league tables have all conspired to fool us all into thinking  that we have a cleverer population than is fact.

We are all still  hostages to a crumbling old socialist dream spawned by the politics of envy and a desire to massage unemployment statistics.

We are not alone.

Not so long ago, I was in a Middle Eastern country and was chatting to some very bright-sounding Americans. I told them that I was training some senior executives for a well-known oil company and asked then what they were doing. ” We are writing Ph.D dissertations for some local students. We get between $3000-$5000 per document.”

Here in the UK, we already have one foot on that particular slippery slope.

How times have changed.

Many years ago, I recall my school maths teacher handing out examination results.

“Smith !” He bellowed to my friend. “You have scored 6% in Mathematics. You must work harder, boy!”

Smith looked a bit perplexed ” 6% out of what, Sir?”

Fast-forward 40 years. Smith has retired early with about £20 million in the bank.

University is not compulsory and we must stop, think and then return to proper education and proper Universities.

If  GCSEs, A-LEVELS and  Degrees are devalued any further, I can envisage the day when people will deny having “Qwaleefikashuns” and pride will be restored in non-academia.

Would you want to admit to a degree in Equine Psychology or Surfing?

We should look forward to the day when once again University students read without moving their lips  and who can write a decent essay without the aid of “cut and paste”.

Finally, just to show that you cannot fool the real world – over 100,000 University students drop-out after their first year.

Nearly a quarter of all university students FAIL to complete their degrees.

The average drop-out rate is nearly 20% and some “Universities” have a drop-out rate of about 40%.

(For those of you from Sir John Crap Metropolitan University in Lower Uppingham who can read this – that’s about a fifth or nearly a quarter.

40% is twice that  or nearly (but not quite) a half.

Sod it! Here’s something to colour in:)