Monday, 5 December, 2022

Catastrophe in O-Level and A-Level Results

Dr Md Mahmudul Hassan

The global education system is still not immune from the impact of Covid-19. During the corona period, all national and international education programs adopted a mixed method to determine the results of the exams, such as giving results through the evaluation of the teachers of each school, determining grades based on the results of past exams or taking and evaluating exams in name only, etc., which has a harmful effect on the year 2022. Parents and education experts fear that the result will fall in SSC and HSC 2022 too. This is more evident from the results of English Medium School published on 18th and 25th August 2022.

Recently, the results of IGCSE or O-level and IAL or A-level examinations of English medium schools held simultaneously all over the world have been published, which is quite frustrating for teachers, parents and students. While last year's teacher-rated grades were up, this year's results are down.

One statistic showed top grades in English medium schools fell from 61.2% to 53%, a fall of almost four times the national average. Overall, the proportion of students getting top grades fell from 28.9% to 26.3% this year.

Such catastrophe of results is observed not only in Bangladesh but also all over the world. Many believe that this is because of the numerical system of grading that Michael Gove introduced. He introduced the policy of grading students on a 9-point scale, whereas previously students would normally receive an A* or A grade. Gove's intention behind introducing the new Grade 9 was to separate the toppers from the top students. But the results show that the proportion of topper or top grades has decreased since last year. On the other hand, the proportion of students achieving grades 4 and above in the lower grade points also decreased by 4%, from 79% last year to 75%. As a result, thousands of students are emotionally disappointed with their results.

Some feel that due to the complications caused by the corona epidemic, students have refrained from coming to school regularly and are increasingly turning to so-called coaching centres. As a result, the students were largely unaware of the updates in the examination system due to lack of contact with school teachers, which made them fail to achieve the desired results. As we know, every year the British Council authorities make some changes in the question and answer system considering the advantages and disadvantages of the students, the updates of which are sent only to the school authorities. Therefore, if the students had been coming and going to school regularly then the students could have taken proper preparation through their teachers and maybe this time the result would not have been such a disaster.

Richard Garrett, Ofqual's director of policy and strategic relations, recently said, “We are confident that the negative reaction to this year's results will not carry over into next year's exam. That is why we have set out our expectations for the next two years and clear direction for the necessary actions to be taken.”

A spokesman for the England-based Department for Education said: “Our aim is to return as soon as possible to a carefully designed and well-established pre-epidemic assessment system, as it is the best and fairest way of assessing what students know and what they can do.” Director Chris Zaraga said that we believe the severe long-term effects and problems of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to such a disaster in the results of this trial.

It should be noted that around half a million students worldwide took the Cambridge exam in June 2022 and there were 1.4 million entries for the Cambridge exam from schools in 147 countries. Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, student entries have increased in almost all countries for this year's examinations, with over 220,000 in IAL and A-level and over 250,000 in IGCSE and O-level examinations.

Cambridge International and Edexcel are engaging with education authorities, governments and schools worldwide to ensure the safe conduct of the 2022-2023 exam series, and are taking a range of initiatives to help students and teachers adapt the administration of exams and other assessments to the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Some of the students in Bangladesh have been able to achieve the required qualifications due to some of their next steps, which is a testament to their resilience and the continued support of their teachers, families and communities. Students of a handful of English medium schools located in Dhaka, including Daffodil International School, have achieved very good results due to the constant supervision of their teachers for planned preparation.

So, it can be said with certainty that the detrimental effect of the stagnation in the education system due to the corona epidemic is particularly responsible for the disaster in this year's results. Moreover, as last year's IGCSE or O-level and IAL or A-level exams were given predictable results based on teacher evaluation, there was a latent hope among the students that their results might be similar this time too, so they took the exams without studying well. However, due to this poor result this year, a sense of awareness has been created among the students, teachers and parents due to which they will give importance to learning and will be able to achieve good results.


The writer is the Principal, Daffodil International School (DIS), Dhaka and President, Federation of English Medium Schools (FEMS)