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Edexcel Cheating Scandal
by Luby Prytulak, PhD
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First posted  25 Jun 2013 11:15pm PST,  last edited  25 Jun 2013 11:15pm PST

The Explicit Transformational Syllabus (XTS) web page has argued, among other things, that conventional examination procedures invite massive cheating, whereas XTS examination procedures, relying on principles of random sampling, are able to manufacture unique but equal-in-difficulty examinations capable of stopping most of that cheating.

The Finger of Blame web page went on to focus on the Educational Testing Service (ETS) history of cheating scandals which continue right up to the present day, serving to reinforce the conclusion that cheating on conventional examinations takes place on a massive scale, and that the world's largest and most prestigious examination-manufacturing concern seems unacquainted with the method of stopping cheating, XTS, and is therefore content to allow the epidemic to continue reaping victims at the historically-established rate.

In turn, the Edexcel Cheating Scandal described below,

  1. serves as a reminder that defective conventional examination procedures are not unique to American testing giant ETS, but are also practiced by the British testing giant Edexcel;

  2. serves also as a reminder that conventional testing's remedy for an outbreak of preview cheating is to supply a replacement paper which itself consists of identical copies and so can be cheated on by the same illicit preview that disqualified the original paper;

  3. serves further as a reminder that any replacement paper comes with no mathematical or statistical or scientific guarantee of equality-of-difficulty, and so can be expected to be noticeably unequal in difficulty, which in the current Edexcel Scandal turns out to be noticeably harder;

  4. serves still further as a reminder that cheating is not victimless, but rather that it does create victims who have serious wrongs to complain of;

  5. and serves finally to reawaken the question first posed in Finger of Blame, to the effect that if the conduct of examination manufacturers is negligent and causes harm, what is to stop injured students from suing them?

The current Edexcel Cheating Scandal is one whose nature has already been explained in the two links above.  That is, because all copies of its upcoming examination were identical, when copies of the imminent examination went missing, caution made it necessary to suppose that they had been stolen and distributed for purposes of illicit preview.  Below, then, is the Edexcel announcement of its latest cheating scandal:

Edexcel announcement of security breach

In the two news reports below, the Edexcel description of its replacement-manufacturing methodology is emphasized in blue font, as below:

  1. "Every time we produce a paper, we carry forward the required standard through the design of the paper" (The Independent).

  2. "This paper has gone through identical standardisation, design and checking processes to all other papers, including the one it replaced" (EADT24).

However, as the procedure so vaguely described seems never to have been disclosed in publication, and as it is offered without claim of ever having been subjected to mathematical or statistical or scientific verification, it might be more condidly and more accurately described as a seat-of-the-pants free-for-all which Edexcel prays it will never be forced to submit to public scrutiny.


Edexcel maths A-level mix-up leaves students concerned for university places

Some 60 students sat the original test, leading to suggestions on social media that it was notably easier


  Edexcel math mixup, Independent

Exam board Edexcel is facing criticism after losing a set of papers in the post and setting an allegedly harder test in their place.

The blunder occurred after a batch of the A-Level maths exams went missing en route to a school in Amsterdam last month.  Edexcel decided to issue a replacement test, however [60] students at two schools in Britain and two schools overseas mistakenly sat the original.  Discussion on social media has suggested that it [the original] was considerably easier.

Students have complained that the mix-up could lose them their university places, as they fear receiving grades far worse than those they hoped for.  [...]

Poppie Simmonds, from Leicestershire, wrote to Edexcel complaining about the "impossibility" of the new exam, saying it would "almost certainly" mean that she misses out on her university place offered on the basis of achieving three A's at A-level.

Miriam Phillips, a student from London, tweeted an email she wrote to Edexcel, which read: "What you did was very mean.  Honest to God, half of that wasn't even C3.

"Maths was my safety net.  I was so confident after getting As in my practice papers and I walked into that examination hall with hope.

"You have not only ruined my day but ruined my confidence as well."

"On top of this, other schools sat the leaked paper — the EASIER paper," she added.

"There were contents in our exam which were not part of our specification and we are still being marked on that?  I hope not."

A spokeswoman for Pearson, which owns Edexcel, said the company understood "students' concern and distress" and would be reviewing the exam.

"Every time we produce a paper, we carry forward the required standard through the design of the paper," she said.  [...]

Edexcel had to apologise earlier in the week when it emerged that 88 pupils sat GCSE maths papers containing a printing error that meant questions were missing.


Suffolk: Fears tough exam could hamper university hopes
Matt Bunn     Tuesday, June 18, 2013   9:00 AM


The university prospects of hundreds of A-level maths students in Suffolk could have been compromised because they were handed a much tougher exam than expected, a concerned parent has claimed.

The Edexcel maths C3 exam, which students sat on Thursday, had to be re-written after the a set of the exam board's original papers were lost.

But thousands of students have complained about the new paper, claiming that some of the questions they were given were nearly impossible to answer.  [...]

"The maths department responded immediately by checking the paper and they agreed that the level of questions this year, differed when compared to previous years."  [...]

One parent, Dave Richardson, whose son Dave attends Suffolk One and took the exam, believes the questions were hugely unfair on students who have spent months revising.

He said: "He is good at maths and he was expecting to get an A or A* as were some of his friends, but they all came out saying that it was an impossible exam and they were unable to understand some of the questions.

"My son wants to do a course at Warwick and he needs to get the A in maths to do that course.  If he only gets two As and a C then he won't be able to go to Warwick."  [...]

A spokeswoman for Pearson said the company would review the exam.  [...]

"This paper has gone through identical standardisation, design and checking processes to all other papers, including the one it replaced."

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