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Online Marking System Farce

September 22nd, 2007


BBC News today reports that "Online marking systems ‘faulty’". Prima facie evidence is that with the growth of online marking there has been a corresponding increase of complaints about grades from teachers.

Exams are an inexact method of assessing students’ abilities. Teachers know their students thoroughly and are able to gauge with a very good degree of accuracy how they should perform in exams. When differences between expected performance and actual performance start become too widespread, then there is a problem with the examination system.

John Bangs, head of the NUT is reported as saying "They are not able to annotate the scripts by hand, there’s a time constraint and you can’t take into account youngsters who do quite a lot of writing and don’t fill in the standard box that online marking demands. So legitimately there’s a question whether or not online marking is missing some of the achievements of youngsters." There is also reported a trend towards less well paid, less well qualified examiners.

Technology has a worrying tendency to make things more uniform than they might otherwise be. Marking an exam can be a complex business, and it seems reasonable to contend that someone whose performance is good but unusual could be at a disadvantage in the new marking regime.

One Comment

  1. Lynne #
    August 14, 2008

    I can see where there might be concern here. But to be honest, I think the same problem has existed in the regular classroom for years. The curriculum of most schools is geared toward students that do well in one type learning environment. Children who are more gifted in abstract areas, such as art, are seldom recognized for their achievments. Perhaps this new concern will open the door for discussion of how to better meet the learning needs of all children, no matter where the examinations and grading occur.

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