Why Exams Aren’t The Whole Story

Why Exams Aren’t The Whole Story
By C Hoppe
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WhichSchoolAdvisor's annual school survey.
Inequality in the UAE? Raffles World Academy principal Julian Williams says of the whichschooladvisor.com report, “a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing’ and publishers also have a responsibility to ensure that they enlighten rather than confuse. “A simple comparison of schools by percentage grade attainment can be likened to comparing apples with pears.” While discussions on inequality in the UK and US focus on the measuring of schools in wealthy areas against those in deprived inner city areas, inequality in the UAE centres squarely on students with EAL (English as an Additional Language). The multicultural nature of the UAE can mean children arrive in school often with no English language knowledge or prior experience of the curriculum they are entering. Interestingly, students who sit the IGCSE English exam as a ‘second language’- can only obtain a maximum grade of a ‘C pass,’ which can significantly bring a school’s overall marks down. Williams principal of Raffles World Academy notes, “when seeking to compare relative performance, it is critical to understand that schools may have very real difference s in terms of size, intake and ethos. Using attainment data alone to produce an effective ‘league table’ of performance is misleading.” “Raffles World Academy has more than 85 different nationalities and a high proportion of students speak English as an additional language (EAL). Interestingly Williams notes that students who are with the school for more than the two years of an IGCSE course opt for the (tougher) First Language English at IGCSE, rather than the Second Language English exam and do well. “However, lower than average English proficiency, especially among students who join the school mid-IGCSE course can impact higher grades,” he says. Next: The GCSE/IGCSE Debate

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