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Brits bend scores for good reason


Ohanian Comment: If you think this is bizarre, just remember that Standardistos here in the U. S. brook no excuses--not a goldfish's death or a grandfather's. The test must go on.

Yes, this is that Ramsey Clak, author of what an Amazon.com blurb describes as "A gripping horror extravaganza." You can see why high-stakes testing terror catches his fancy.



But now the Joint Council for Qualifications, the body representing exam boards in Britain, has spelled out exactly how test scores should be adjusted for "special circumstances."

According to BBC News, students now can add an extra 5 percent to their score if a parent or close relative has died recently.

The recent death of a distant family member is enough to add 4 percent to a student's score.

Witnessing a distressing event on the day of the exam would add 3 percent.

Hay fever would increase a score by 2 percent.

Death of a pet -- cat, dog, bird or fish, presumably -- on exam day could earn students an extra 2 percent in their score.

However, the death of a pet the day before the exam would only amount to a 1 percent increase.

Similarly, a headache on test day would also entitle a student to a 1 percent bonus.

British school officials said the intent is to ensure consistency and fairness in scoring exams.

I applaud their efforts.

At least they have recognized one of the problems with relying so heavily on test results to assess student achievement.

However, if I were a student there, I would be strongly tempted on test day to claim not only a sudden onset of migraine and hay fever -- but a major goldfish catastrophe as well.

rcampbell@orlandosentinel.com

— Ramsey Campbell
Orlando Sentinel

2005-05-22

http://tinyurl.com/dvbe3

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