Sunday, 13 April 2014

Not agreeing with the establishment at all...

I read that I don't agree with the 'scientific establishment' at all. 

See this post for details.

Not true, so I better have another go at explaining myself.

Scientific organisations are very worried about the removal of practical work from the formal assessment of A-level sciences. They are right to be worried. My point is that they should have been worried about the changes long before now. Perhaps they were. 

The changes reflect a broken, unworkable controlled assessment system. They do not reflect the ideal situation.

Ideally we (teachers, researchers, subject organisations, university groups etc) would work on a curriculum that gave the chance to our 18 year olds of leaving school with the knowledge and skills they need to move on to the next stage in their science education. (Lets assume those doing science A-levels are going to be doing degrees with some degree of science - the destination data says they are). After that curriculum was devised we'd work out a way to assess it. 

But we don't. We put in place an assessment regime that assumes all teachers cheat and the proportion of internally assessed marks depends on the classification of the qualification. Then we work back from there to the curriculum. 

Wellcome, the Physiological Society, the Royal Society are right in what they say, we must value practical skills along side knowledge in the science curriculum. Score and the ASE responds can be found here:

I agree with what Professor Julia Buckingham, Chair of SCORE, said:
 “We fully appreciate that reform is needed but the current solution is rushed and does not address operational issues. We believe we can develop workable new approaches but Ofqual has decided to go ahead with an inadequate solution.”
Reform is needed. What I disagree with the 'establishment' is that this reform is worse than the status quo. For me, this change will support the potential for good quality practical work to be carried out. 

(Personally I don't believe that score do have a better solution that would be accepted by ofqual or the government.) 

1 comment:

  1. I haven't been following this debate carefully, but am vaguely surprised that practicals were part of the A-level assessment. My view was/is that practicals are part and parcel of studying Science; helping to embed concepts, and introducing students to the vagaries of experimental work (in 'real' life, experiments never work first time...), and making the scientific method explicit. But students don't need to be assessed in their practical skills. Surely, practicals were not only undertaken because they were part of the exam???