A-level results: New Labour triumphs again
The long term plan to dumb down today's pupils so much that future generations will be unable to work out exactly how the government fiddles the grade boundaries continues unabashed. As explained by the stubborn School Standards Minister David Miliband, children aren't getting cleverer - that would be "absurd" - but schools and teachers are now so good that the potential contained in our nation's youth is more fully realised, conveniently for graph plotters by about half a percent each year.
As Mr Miliband tacitly concedes, exam performance fits a 'normal distribution' (you may need an 'older' statistics A-level to understand this concept properly). This bell-shaped curve is chopped up into different proportions to determine who gets what grade. Therefore, this indefatigable increase in results is due to a clever technique known as 'deciding how many people get what grades, making sure it's a bit higher than it was last year'. Given the assumed constant of intelligence distribution, this demonstrates a simple fact – it is easier to get decent grades than it used to be.
Mr Miliband's consolatory message to the plethora of students battling for recognition against the plague of cynics claiming their grades aren't actually worth anything is simple: "Don't let anyone tell you that standards have dropped because more of you have done well. This is simply a myth".
Not only is the minister's message good for a bit of a laugh, but it further strengthens the mollification of students, thus ensuring that no-one is ever too disappointed and that the pain and hardship that should usually accompany the realisation that you are retarded is soon to be a thing of the past under our lovely, caring neo-liberal regime.
Further spurious pap comes from the mouth of Dr Ellie Johnson-Searle, the Director of the Joint Council for Qualifications, who claims the "grades awarded are absolutely a reflection of what students have earned". The triumvirate of jokers is completed by David Hart, Leader of the National Association of Head Teachers who praises the hard work of students and teachers alike.
This supposed increase in the work ethics of today's students is surely not however compatible with the proliferation of pupils taking such demanding subjects as Media Studies and Psychology. As someone who completed their A levels not five years ago, I can categorically state that illusions of hard work are just that. Bright students all over the country are so safe in the knowledge they'll end up with A grades, that they spend two years honing their card-playing skills. By making it ever more simple to achieve top grades, the education system has successfully bred an apathetic culture, leaving potentially skilled pupils horrendously unchallenged. This problem is confounded by the problems the top universities then face in selecting the top students. Plans to introduce an A* grade for A-levels are moving at a cautionary pace, amidst fears that such a grade would show up the state schools for failing to match the performances of the private sector.
Patricia Voute, an examiner writing in the Times, described how papers she had given C grades were upped to A grades and that, overall, she believed a third of all scripts should have failed. This is a remarkably clear voice amongst the phalanx of examiners rejecting claims that it is now easier to get good grades. Given the regularity of exam board mistakes significantly affecting students' lives, surely what they meant was that it is not getting any easier for them to mark the papers. They needn't worry, however, because at current levels of progression, every single paper will soon be awarded the same A grade.
Mr Miliband attacked the cynics and the English psyche for playing the "national sport of talking down young people", citing the criticism of standards as a "national disease". A shrewd example of media manipulation and spin worthy of any Media Studies student.