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Severe grading of modern languages

It is now well established that in modern languages it is harder to achieve the same grade as in other subjects. At GCSE, MFL is the hardest area, roughly half a grade harder than maths and English. Only biology, physics and chemistry come close to the difficulty level of languages. At A-level the sciences are fractionally harder than MFL, but languages are still amongst the hardest.

Schools are reasonably aware of this issue now, but the government has been reluctant to move the goalposts for fear of being accused of "dumbing down" the exam system. In addition, if they moved the goalposts for languages, other subjects might ask for the same and it is quite hard to achieve absolute parity across subjects.

I quite like the idea being mooted that value added data for schools might include a coefficient for harder subjects, thus raising their status and encouraging heads to increase the accessibility of languages to students. I also think, however, that there could be a gradual easing of grading to allow languages to come in line to a greater extent with other subjects. I am sure this would be politically acceptable and the same could be done with other subjects.

Some might say: languages are harder so grades should be tougher. In addition, schools know which subjects are harder than others, but I don't go along with this, especially now that league tables and "residuals" are so important. Pupils look at headline grades and sometimes choose their subjects accordingly.

Anyway, the data is here:

http://www.all-london.org.uk/severe_grading.htm

Helen Myers of the ALL (London Branch) has put an awful lot of time into this issue and achieved a good deal of understanding and sympathy at government level.

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