An independent exam authority

September 26, 2007 3:24 PM

The Telegraph reports that today Ed Balls will announce a replacement for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) that sets both the curriculum and the tests:

"He said: "There is an inherent conflict of interest
in having one body that is both developing the curriculum and keeping
the curriculum up to date with the modern needs of employers and
learning, and at the same time having set the curriculum and set the
tests, also reporting after the fact that standards have been
maintained.


"And while I think the QCA has tried
really hard to be robust and independent I just think that if you have
an organisation with different functions that look like they conflict,
you aren't going to win the highest level of public confidence.


"And that is why I think now is the right time to address this issue."

What's interesting is that the replacement will still have its senior officers appointed by ministers.  Those setting the exams will still owe their position to political favour.  Political priorities are the root cause of problems with grade inflation.  It might have been worth thinking about a system that is, instead, under the control of those who rely on exam results to differentiate between students - perhaps universities as Jamie Whyte proposed in the Times.

The Telegraph reports that today Ed Balls will announce a replacement for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) that sets both the curriculum and the tests:

"He said: "There is an inherent conflict of interest
in having one body that is both developing the curriculum and keeping
the curriculum up to date with the modern needs of employers and
learning, and at the same time having set the curriculum and set the
tests, also reporting after the fact that standards have been
maintained.


"And while I think the QCA has tried
really hard to be robust and independent I just think that if you have
an organisation with different functions that look like they conflict,
you aren't going to win the highest level of public confidence.


"And that is why I think now is the right time to address this issue."

What's interesting is that the replacement will still have its senior officers appointed by ministers.  Those setting the exams will still owe their position to political favour.  Political priorities are the root cause of problems with grade inflation.  It might have been worth thinking about a system that is, instead, under the control of those who rely on exam results to differentiate between students - perhaps universities as Jamie Whyte proposed in the Times.

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