LETTER : Today's A-levels fail to make the grade

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The Independent Online
From Ms Lynn Abrams and Mr Michael Mullett

Sir: We write as university teachers of history to deplore the annual chant coming from regressive anti-egalitarian media and politicians of the cry that A-level standards have slipped over time. This simplistic complaint, a variant of the reactionary "more means worse" chorus, shows no understanding of how A-level papers are actually marked, by serious and protracted scrutiny on the part of highly conscientious examiners over the course of any given summer. From the admissions point of view, we, like all other History departments in British universities, are now accepting large numbers of diligent and gifted students whose application has earned them high grades that would stand comparison with any levels reached over the past quarter century. After their admission, as teachers we see the real quality of these students in their admirable performances in essays, tutorials and final exams. It really does no service to the proper self-esteem of a vast cohort of young people to rubbish their achievements at the very time that these are notified to them.

Sincerely,

Lynn Abrams

Michael Mullett

Department of History

Lancaster University

17 August

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