Well there's a catchy headline for you! It certainly caught our eye. TAIB openly admits to not being intimately familiar with the curriculum presented students for the A-Level exams. From all accounts, the A-Levels are the British counterpart to our Advanced Placement exams produced by The College Board and graded by ETS. In fact, for a few years the A-Levels were run by ETS Europe until sloppy math exams and other issues cropped up and then the contract was handed over to Edexcel.
The bickering between UK officials and educrats is dramatic. Overly loquacious claims by one Mr Witheridge appear in print, boldly stating: "Government interference has destroyed the A-level as an exam for bright sixth-formers. They have reduced the overall level in order to increase the school-leavers passing the exam and going on to university. We are quite certain that the A-level has had its day."
Shoo! Begone with you A-Levels! We denounce you as inferior and tools of a corrupt governmental scheme! Now you are just going to have to take our word for it that the International Baccalaureate is better!
Will nobody stop to honestly evaluate the difference in the quality of these exams?
Will you allow the politics and greed of educational peddlers to destroy the educational system of the UK?
It never ceases to amaze some of us here at TAIB, that supporters of IB refuse to view the “IB programmes” as a product. IB is an “international” product seeking to gain market share in the more prosperous countries around the world. If anyone doesn’t think IBO is “following the money”, make no mistake about the strategy behind IBO’s recent conference in Dubai:
Between 1998-2005, IBO’s Strategic Planning Committee was primarily focused on expansion of IB in the United States. IBO seems to think it has established enough of a foothold in the U.S.A., primarily thanks to Jay Mathews, so that it can concentrate its efforts elsewhere on the planet. Remember, IBO has less than 375 employees, worldwide.
In 2006, we began seeing articles out of the UK indicating that then Prime Minister Tony Blair was putting forth a major educational directive to replace the A-Level exams with IB. The A-Levels had come under fire, ironically, because more students were getting As on them! Instead of concluding that perhaps teachers had gotten better and students were learning better over the years with a straight-forward curriculum, the academic elite concluded that the tests themselves must have been dumbed down. Under a government directive, schools were encouraged to dump the A-Levels and become IB Academies:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6159857.stmBut then, Mr. Blair left office and a new Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, had a very different idea. Why doesn’t the UK develop its own national diploma? Balls wasn’t so keen on IB and also didn’t have the distaste for the A-Levels that Blair did. IBO had lost its strongest political advocate, but was able to make considerable inroads into UK schools before Blair retired. (Perhaps if TAIB is really bored oneday one of us will search for data as to how many new schools were authorized as IB in the 2005-2007 time period.) Recently, Balls was dealt a blow by the Confederation of British Industry when he was told to abandon plans for any sort of national diploma:
It will be interesting to watch whether the newly established IB academies take off, or disintegrate, in light of this global financial meltdown. The UK is suffering as much if not more so than the United States in this current crisis. But who is NOT suffering? Ah yes …. Dubai.
Below are a number of additional articles from the UK:
“Importing the International Baccalaureate is not the answer. Highly academic and exclusive by nature, it would be a backwards step, irrelevant to the vast majority of students at that stage of their schooling.”