Scholarship: foggy, messy and backwards
I wrote in a blog earlier that this year’s scholarship exams are but a mist, the information given to us nothing but a vague semi-description of what may or may not come.
A couple of weeks and I’ve already proven myself right. I quote from the 2005 details page itself:
Markers will use subject-specific assessment schedules, each of which will be based on a Generic Mark Guide of 0 to 8 marks.
But then I looked at the cover pages, which have been released on the NZQA website. They give detail about how many marks and questions are in each paper. Based on the quote above, you would expect them all to be multiples of eight. But, to name just a few, biology has 30, chemistry has 94, economics has 60, and statistics has 156. Already, the information is incorrect. Then, in the chemistry paper, the cover page says the questions are worth 22, 14, 14, 14, 14 and 16 marks respectively. Whatever happened to marks out of 8?
I figure the examiners found it too difficult to set questions in these subjects that could be marked according to the generic mark guide. Either that, or they just found it inappropriate. Hence we see a great deviation from the entire movement of the secondary schools assessment system in recent years. Subjects are being marked on scores similar to percentages — useless numbers, keeping the candidate’s skill level hidden from both himself and whoever might need to know. A score, based on the automatic aggregations of matches to the marking schedule.
In fact, this deviation is the precise converse of what assessment has moved into. Ranking students to award money is one thing, but they seem to have changed the style of assessment altogether. Years of learning to show that you know everything — and that means everything — about a certain concept are pushed aside.
Okay, I don’t know why I’m trying to predict the style of questions that will be in the exams. I’ve just said that it’s practically impossible.
You know what, screw this. It’s too tricky. I’ve made no sense of it. You’re probably at more of an advantage not thinking about this.