Ofqual: Comparison of A Levels with International Qualifications

Report published by Ofqual purports to address, among others, the following issues:

Issue 3: Different levels of demand within mathematics – The number of different mathematics assessments at a variety of levels available to students in many education systems was also in contrast to A level Mathematics. Is there a need for A level Mathematics to have further lower-level options in addition to AS?

Issue 4: Breadth versus depth within mathematics – Within the more challenging mathematics courses considered, A level Mathematics is unusual in covering both pure mathematics and the application of mathematics in the same course. While this means that more fields within mathematics are available to study, other education systems include more demanding mathematics which an A level student can only access through additional A level courses. Would a more focused A level mathematics course better serve the needs of more capable mathematicians?

Issue 5: Specialism within mathematics – A level Mathematics includes optional routes. This means students with the same grade in the qualification may not be equally well prepared for a specific further course of study. Would distinct qualifications, building on a mathematical core but emphasising the different specialisms, better serve students and those seeking to match them to appropriate further opportunities?

Pdf file of the report: Comparison of A Levels with International Qualifications.

One thought on “Ofqual: Comparison of A Levels with International Qualifications

  1. The summary report avoids saying anything (perhaps to allow those who refer to it to choose their own preferred conclusions).

    So one is left asking: “What exactly is the point?” At this stage one is left to guess the answer. But one can observe.

    (i) This is not the report: it is only the “Summary report”, and publication would seem to have been delayed (a version of the contents was leaked to newspapers a considerable time before the summary appeared; this makes it look as though an early draft was leaked and then the authors were obliged to publish something – even if it wasn’t in very good shape).

    On the bottom of page 20 we find encouragement to look at the Full Report and the Table Supplement – but they do not yet exist! (Such is modern news management.)

    (ii) There are no ‘authors’ listed. So if one wanted to ask questions, there is no-one to ask.

    It is natural to ask
    * Who writes such a report?
    * What experience do they bring to the task?
    * Who do they consult along the way?

    (iii) More interestingly generally, one should ask:

    * Why did they write the report?

    The answer may be in the public domain, but one suspects that the DfE commissioned the report in order to support some future action.

    (v) The curious nature of the Summary Report shows up all over the place. E.g. Issue 6, p.31,
    where the claims about A level Chemistry APPEAR TO contradict the recent SCORE report on ‘Mathematics in science A levels’ (where A level teachers were far from satisfied with the mathematics in A level Chemistry: see p. 49 ff. of the SCORE report http://www.score-education.org/media/10036/full%20maths.pdf)

    And the claims completely ignore the fact that the ‘other systems’ being compared with all have Maths as a compulsory subject, so students learn basic techniques whether or not they are assessed as part of the Chemistry exams. They also contradict everything one knows about first year undergraduate chemists.

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