RSC welcomes Ofqual exam standards review


13 May 2011

The Royal Society of Chemistry welcomes the news that the exam regulator Ofqual will announce an investigation into A-level and GCSE standards, as the learned society has been for several years at the forefront of calling for greater rigour in exams and assessments.

The watchdog has already reviewed GCSE science exams and reported last year that "standards are currently too low".

Prof Jim Iley, RSC director of science and education, said it was inevitable a wide-ranging review needed to be carried out after 23 consecutive years of annual rises in exam results. He also warned that it is essential for Ofqual, in carrying out their duty to compare UK exam standards against the highest performing systems abroad, to conduct their reviews using experts independent from the awarding organisations.

Prof Iley said that the RSC will be happy to support Ofqual in their review: "Since Ofqual does not have subject expertise, the RSC recommends that Ofqual engage with professional bodies and learned societies to ensure such comparisons are undertaken by independent panels of expertise. 

"Ofqual's revised role is to ensure consistency of attainment levels and the maintenance of standards. It is absolutely essential that a rigorous exam and assessment system is established that is not open to continual challenge.

"That the birthplace of the internet and the discovery of the structure of DNA should rank only 16th in science, and a disastrous 28th in mathematics, according to the most recent PISA results, is a wake-up call for UK education," Prof Iley said.

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