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Friday, March 06, 2009

Time for change

Like most UK higher education institutions, we are proud that we use criterion referenced marking in our assessments. We sneer at American universities which mark on the curve.

Normal curve
And all was well. Until the 1980s when GCSEs moved from norm-based to criterion-based. Followed by A levels. And then government policy became for 50% of the UK population to go through higher education. And league tables for schools and universities made a nonsense of the prospect of failing students.

So it pains me to say this, but criterion-referenced marking in the present system of UK higher education is broken. And unless something changes, the only way to fix the problem is to move to norm-referenced assessment. At the present time, we are producing large numbers of graduates who are not what we say they are.