Go for average points

January 19, 2007

I remain baffled at the discourse deployed and the solutions proposed in relation to the "problem" discussed in your story "Concern at rise in top degrees" (January 12).

The problem is not grade inflation, which may or may not be happening. It is the adherence to a system of classification of degrees that never did enough to differentiate one class from the other. Five categories of classification are insufficient for any meaningful differentiation. The seven proposed by Alan Smithers will not solve this problem. It will baffle everyone without providing much additional information.

Smithers is correct that the proposal of Bob Burgess for a classification pass/fail accompanied by transcripts would provide too much information.

I imagine that most employers would want a summary figure that is meaningful. Why not a grade-point average? This has its problems, too, but it at least provides a finely graded summary of outcomes, eliminating the very bad and the very good through the process of averaging. Accompanied by a transcript, it could be all that is needed, and employers could choose how much information they would wish to include in their deliberations.

It would have the added virtue of making the work of exam boards either shorter or entirely superfluous. I, for one, would not mind either of these outcomes.

Ray Stokes.
Glasgow University

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