Edexcel was testing its online 'A' level results service over the weekend when it left a web server live and accidentally released grades a week early. The cock-up happened on Saturday morning and was fixed by early afternoon, by which time several dozen students had seen their results and texted grades to friends too. A …
Oh FFS !!!!!!
this is getting farcical now.
...at least they didn't do the same thing that happened in Scotland - sending out the wrong results!
The wrong results occur on Thursday...
Standard Operating Procedure
The UK always follows this process with anything new.
They try it out in Scotland before rolling it out to the rest of the UK.
Do staff at EdExcel have to pass a competency exam before they are allowed to work there?
I mean realistically they only have a small window of opportunity (2-3 months) where their services are seen publicly, so you would expect that all effort goes into making those as perfect as possible.
But year on year, they seem to fail miserably in the public domain. Deity only knows what incompetencies are covered up during the other 9 months of the year.
About as much as yuou'd expect from them..
I worked for Edexcel one summer (admittedly a few years ago now), checking the adding up of marks on papers. It was an eye-opening experience. The focus was on getting the work completed on time at all costs, with little concern for the accuracy of the results they created. On average it seemed like most grades were accurate to +/- 1 (eg a B awarded for Maths GCSE or A-level could easily have been either an A or C if marked properly). I've heard it has improved a bit since, but the slap-dash approach was endemic bath them.
Re: About as much as yuou'd expect from them.
"the slap-dash approach was endemic bath them"
Intentional or accidental irony?
Of course they do
They all got 47 A* at A level, the exams now are so easy a chimp could pass them.
If you can get a chimp to pass even one A level exam I'll buy you a pint (and one for the chimp).
Or are you perhaps being a little overzealous in your statement.
Not sure about England but studies in Scotland have shown that exam standards have remained constant and pupils are just getting better at passing exams.
Also, you should Google the Flynn Effect- IQs are increasing steadily over time too. In a couple of centuries you would be considered an imbecile. Or perhaps you already are?
My view is that the Flynn Effect is actually caused by natural selection of the ugly and stupid. Ugly clever people have money, so get laid, and good looking people get laid, so there's a selection out of ugly people, and stupid people.
As it happens as anyone over 40 can see as absolutely obvious, (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/8680088/Richard-Pike.html)
"In 2009 he found that a “higher tier” GCSE mathematics paper intended for the country’s brighter young mathematicians was easier than 11-plus practice papers from 1960 with which he had compared it. Last year he attacked the government for funding students doing “Mickey Mouse” degrees – and called for the money to be spent on science instead. "
Dumbing down makes sufficient parents to think MPs are good. Another case of the system destroying the country, due to short term advantage.
A return to normalised grading is the only solution, but it doesn't allow MPs to fix the figures.
THERE IS NO s in exam board for the SQA!!!
In Scotland - there is one exam board (unless of course you are at one of these daft schools that wants to be in England!).
Oh... and Reg - oplease fix the forums to work under firefox 7!
What? They've only just released 6!
How are they not working in FF7? (Not tried it myself, genuinely curious)
Either the forums have a defect in some way (non-valid html?) or something in FF7 isn't complete yet. Anyone know?
If it's the latter then there's nothing for the reg to fix, you're just using a browser that's still in the works.
Might go try myself now.
Okay - slight typo - should be 8! not 7! - its the 64-bit release - and yes its a nightly build - so more likely to be the browser than -el reg!
Cant login properly - accepts uname/pw but fails to do very much (unless of course the credentials are wrong and it tells you so!).
Opera mobile too
They don't work under opera mobile too, on Android. It just returns an apache error.
Opera mini on nokia too
I'd really expect a tech site to work properly, but it seems it doesn't :(
Back to skool for them
Available or public?
Were the results made available to only the students via their logins, or public to all on the web? I assuming the former given how hilarious the latter would be (and therefore would have been mentioned/mocked).
This begs the question, why were students logging into the results service before the publication date? Nothing better to do?
Was there always this "big day" thing
I don't remember, thirty odd years ago, any big publicity about the day the results were coming out: they just turned up in the post one day. Unless I was just pretending to be to cool to care enough to look up the dates...
Welcome to instant access.
I had to go to school to pick up my GCSE, just before the "internet" gathered pace.
These days, it's all about willy waving and I'll argue the point with anyone who disagrees.
Schools want to see how "well" their students did at passing the exams, as it puts the schools curriculum of "teaching you how to pass an exam" right at the forefront.
The instant nature of technology (if done right Edexcel) means that schools can see on an offical day whose got the largest wanger.
Without a 'big day' the newspapers wouldn't be able to put out nearly as many "Record new pass rate!" headlines, preferably all paired with attractive photogenic schoolgirls jumping into the air and hugging each other photos. Quick search/replace to change the name of the standard issue "swotty kid gets 13 A*'s and goes to Cambridge two years early" story on page 4, filler opinion piece about whether record results mean a decline in exam standards, and job's done down the pub! Easiest day for journalists evar.
It's even worse if you happen to work for a school in England as a data manager. You get the worst of Edexcel, AQA, WJEC et al; and the DfE and Crapita too. Results day has got nothing on school census day, when we are expected to return data to the DfE about every student in school, including information about every course that sixth formers are taking. This has to include the QAN (qualification accreditation number) and Discount Code from the exam board. Trying to get the right ones of these is a hellish experience. Trying to get Crapita SIMS Course Mangler to listen to what you're telling it is even worse. Post-16 funding depends on getting it right. Every single course/student error can cost the school £1500. I can only assume it's some perverse way for the government to cut back on funding.
The picture for this article is four pretty girls, one with a bit of cleavage showing. Why is it always pretty girls attached to articles about A-Level results? Never any pretty boys, or just, y'know a mixed group of students dressed normally and looking normal?
"Why is it always pretty girls attached to articles about A-Level results?"
It's a subtle clue that there is something our society values more than grades.
A-levels? Or T&A-levels?
Standard Ops for the media.
Commonly referred to as 'cleering'.
four pretty girls, one with a bit of cleavage showing...
re pretty girls
Nice uniform too.
Yes, I am complaining, it's cheap, grubby and sexist. It's sort of thing I would expect from the sun.
No its a disaster , if all the students get their results online then the newspapers wont be able to print endless photos excited of 18 year old girls.... the reg is just filling the inevitable gap that will open up.
@AC 14:05 GMT
It's not that sexist.
It's not even particularly cheap or grubby compared to a lot of the internet.
The internet in general is pretty sexist - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/08/15/wikipedia_not_for_girls/
I doubt that showing a group of pretty boys would actually improve the article or increase readership, and you do know that's what journalism is about yes?
Is it that you are a woman hater? Are you jealous or something?
Nothing to see here...
I'm sure the 18 year old girls will be excited but I'm not sure you have ever been able to tell from the pics in the newspapers that there was a gap opening up that needed filling.
Maybe I'm reading the wrong newspapers?
And I'd like to see you sit a modern exam and see how little you know.
Exams in the 60s and 70s had very few, but complex questions, currently it's thought that having many more, easier questions it a better way to examine.
BTW: I sat the first year of GCSE (1987, IIRC) then B/Tech after that, my knowledge of modern exams comes from my father who is a retired secondary head, who get really hacked off by people trying to make out that everything was more difficult when they were a lad. But, you know, why talk up the kids when you can run them down which is much more fun?
Re: AC -Yeah... - I'm curious
A-Levels are supposed to be the first step to understand complex subjects in preparation for Higher education. How are you supposed to demonstrate a good understanding of a complex subject with simple questions?
A large number of simple questions may suit subjects at GCSE, but A-Levels are supposed to be Advanced (remember, O-Levels were Ordinary, and A-Levels were Advanced).
I admit that it was over 30 years ago that I took my A-Levels in science subjects, but I remember that at least one paper in every subject required you to analyse a problem and recognise a particular technique to solve it, and then be able to work through that technique to achieve a solution. You could get some marks if you identified the correct technique, but worked it through incorrectly, or even the wrong technique, but applied it competently.
It demonstrated that you had a knowledge of the subject and how to apply that knowledge to a question. It did mean that there was a large element of luck in which questions would come up, but it was expected that you would have a broad enough understanding to field questions from the whole subject.
I have a 17 year old child who is studying vocational subjects, so I won't be able to see what current A-Level papers are like next year, but I shall be interested to see the test papers that my 15 year old is given in a couple of years time.
On the content of each subject, the chances are that my 30+ year old knowledge of the subjects I studied at A-Level almost certainly does not equip me to sit a modern exam, even if I could remember it all. Physics, Chemistry and even Maths have changed significantly in that time.
Give me 6 months of appropriate time to study a modern syllabus, and I would be happy to see how well I would do compared with a modern student.
To find out whether the science subjects have dumbed down, simply email your MP, and ask "Was there a multiple choice chemistry question which asked, 'what do we wash with? Soap, copper or aluminium?" and was the hardest question on the GCSE advanced maths paper two years ago, "How many square centimetres of paper is needed to cover a 5 cm cube?"
If they say, "The questions are interesting, but we can see from the numbers of students getting A's that standards are improving. Hurrah for the children."
I wonder who the education patsy is going to be this year, who draws the straw to congratulate the kids on their great achievements.
@Obviously upset the chimps
>sit a 19706 exam and see how little they know.
A little unfair since the science papers will cover details of warp drive and the history papers will be all about the zarqon invasion of 16792
valuable grades, poor procedures
As someone who teaches those who go on to Uni I'm not convinced an A in maths or physics is worth any more or less than when I studied these A levels in the early seventies.
However, the procedures these exam boards use horrifies me. These guys seem to imagine that wordprocessors and spreadsheets can take the place of a proper database for setting and checking exam questions and collecting and verifying marks. It's the old problem of the guy who has learned how to use a hammer and tries to recast every woodworking problem as if it were a nail. The facts that their data leaks and mistakes are endemic in marking and preparation and verification of marks doesn't surprise me.
What difference does it make? As long as the grades are correct, what's the problem? In fact, if the grades are ready, why wait to release them at all? I also see no reason why all grades should be released simultaneously. So what if some students get their result before others? What does it matter that some students can start looking for universities early? Are universities now accepting students on a 'first come first served' basis rather than based on results and interviews??
I dont understand something
Why does this really matter?
I mean a cock-up's a cock-up, and they shouldn't have made the mistake, but how early you get the results back doesn't affect the outcome does it? I understand trying to release them all at once and all, but getting this worked up is just sillyness!
>Are universities now accepting students on a 'first come first served' basis rather than based on results and interviews??
In clearing - yes.
Having your results a week earlier than everyone else - if you are shopping for a backup course - is about as useful as having the lottery results a week earlier.
Does it really matter?
I'm surprised anyone’s even bothered to look up there results as it's pretty obvious what your going to get. Going on the way I remember this was run, a lot of the final exam test papers are based off the sample questions from the previous year so everybody knows the answers before they even sit the exam! It's all about just remembering the answers now instead of demonstrating you know what your talking about.