Letter: Settling the score

July 6, 2001

The words "inept" and a "comedy" with which Christopher Chippindale seeks to trash Quality Assurance Agency subject reviews (Letters, THES , June 29) might more accurately apply to his own faulty analysis of review "scores".

Unlike marks awarded in examinations, the QAA "grades" of 1 to 4 have never been intended to indicate the proportion of 100 per cent that reviewers have awarded for a particular aspect of provision. The "overall score", so beloved of league table compilers, simply cannot be translated into a percentage mark out of the maximum of 24.

The QAA has always stressed that reviews result in a "graded profile" that indicates the strengths and weaknesses across the six distinct aspects.

The pseudo-numerical grades 1 to 4 might just as well be replaced by letters or any other type of symbol. They are only a shorthand indication of which descriptor has been judged to apply to the aspect, in other words, the extent to which that aspect contributes to the attainment of the stated aims and objectives.

Sadly, it is the misunderstanding of "scores" and the inability to comprehend a "graded profile" that have led to such widespread angst in the academic community.

David Weitzman
Cardiff

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