The GCSE: promise vs. reality Desmond L. Nut tall
In my view, GCSE has three distinctive features. First of all, it is governed by an elaborate set of national criteria. It is the first time, I think, in 'the history of English education since the war that such detail was specified by government of the objectives of learning, the content and the types of assessment device that had to be used for all courses of study in twenty of the major subjects of the curriculum. Second, the GCSE stipulated that all examinations should differentiate. That word has come to have a very specialized meaning within the context of assessment: that is, that the examination system, though distinguishing between seven different grades of performance, should at the same time differentiate between students in a manner that allows every study to demonstrate in positive terms what they know, understand and can do. The third important feature was the stipulation that every course and examination should contain an element of work done during the course as well as a set-piece examination at the end of a course. Indeed, many subjects do not require an examination at the end of a course at all — the award can simply be based on continuous assessment of work done during the course. The coursework was introduced primarily to allow objectives that are difficult to assess in timed examinations to be assessed, particularly practical work, oral work and so forth.