Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Further Educational Follies

In an attempt to ‘quantify emotional distress and the impact it can have on pupils’ exam performance,’ the Joint Council for Qualifications has recommended that certain ‘special circumstances’ result in extra marks on exams.

For example, if a student’s pet dies on the day of an exam, the candidate is awarded 2% extra marks. If the student is unfortunate enough to have their pet die the day before the exam, the student only gets 1% extra marks.

Here’s what traumatic events are worth to students:

Recent family bereavement or a terminally ill parent: 5%
A severe car accident or the death of a distant relative: 4%
A freshly broken limb, recent domestic crisis, or organ disease: 3%
A ‘broken limb on the mend’ or hay fever: 2%
A headache: 1%

I wonder if you can add things together? Let’s say that my dog died this morning even though I threw myself in front of a speeding car to try and save him. I ended up with a broken arm and a bump on my head. Do I get 10% extra marks? And more importantly, is that twice as traumatic as the death of a parent?

What we will end up having is every student complaining of a headache (after all, who’s going to prove them wrong?), some students planning to off their pets (I wonder if a goldfish is worth less than a dog?), and a few students actually trying to study for exams.

Okay, I applaud the thought that sometimes things happen and students don’t always perform their best each time they take a test. But, instead of saying, ‘Golly, sorry your mom died this week…you still have to take the exam but you get 5% extra marks!’ maybe we could stop putting so much emphasis on ONE EXAM.


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