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Archive for the 'accountability and inspection' Category

A-level debacle has shattered trust in educational assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 August 2020

Students protest against A-level results, August 16 2020.
I. Salci/Shutterstock

Mary Richardson, UCL, first published on The Conversation

After five days of uncertainty and anxiety, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on August 17 that students in England would be awarded their centre assessment grades (CAGs) this summer – that is, the grade their school or college expected they would most likely have attained had they taken their exams – or their moderated grade, whichever was higher.

The announcement follows widespread outrage after it emerged that the poorest students were hardest hit by the inadequacies of the algorithm used to moderate their grades.

Collective sighs of relief were palpable as teachers no longer faced the stress of an appeals process while also preparing to start one of the most complex and challenging years of their careers. Students, however, (more…)

Pick ‘n Mix approach to results is causing Allsorts of anxiety for students and damage of trust

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2020

SHAWSHANK61 / Pixabay

Mary Richardson.

At 8am on 13 August, some five months after the coronavirus took hold of our lives in England, a generation of young people waited anxiously for the release of their Advanced (A) Level results. News reporting is always very excitable on this day and online news feeds and social media streams are traditionally filled with images of young people jumping for joy. The 2020 results day has been a more visually muted affair, but that isn’t solely due to the pandemic. The increase in attainment of A and A* grades almost 28%) has been overshadowed by the fact that, due to the way the data has been modelled, two in every five grades were lower than those predicted by the candidates’ teachers and the poorest students are hardest hit.

Earlier this year, I was cautiously optimistic about the enhanced role that teacher judgment would play in this year’s awarding cycle and how it could change our view of the professional work of teachers. Concern about the potential bias involved in teacher judgment has dominated much of the assessment discourse this year, but the public were assured that this was only one part of the awarding process to determine results. However, things began to look very diffferent a week ago in Scotland, when it was found that some 120,000 grades had been moderated downwards by the regulator.  A public outcry resulted in a swift u-turn via the First Minister and teacher grades were reinstated.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Schools Minister Nick Gibb were looking anxiously over the border on the afternoon prior to results day in England as they announced their triple lock, or as I like to call it, their “pick ‘n’ mix” approach to selecting A level results in 2020.

How about a (more…)

The Covid-19 cohort and the ‘mess’ of public exams: reconsidering roles and responsibilities

Blog Editor, IOE Digital13 August 2020

Melanie Ehren and Christopher Chapman.

On 18 March the Secretary of State for Education told Parliament that, in response to the Coronavirus  pandemic, schools and colleges in England would shut to all but the children of critical workers and vulnerable children until further notice. Exams scheduled for the summer would not take place.

Government worked with the education sector and Ofqual to develop a process to provide calculated GCSE, AS and A level grades for each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible and ensure consistency across the sector. The process involves the following steps: (more…)

Choosing welfare over worksheets and care over ‘catch-up’: teachers’ priorities during lockdown

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 July 2020

Alice Bradbury and Sam Duncan.

Teachers’ working lives changed dramatically under lockdown, with a sudden shift to providing work for children at home or teaching small groups at school. At the same time, our research suggests, their priorities may also have changed. As we enter a new phase of the COVID-19 crisis, planning for the autumn term needs to take into account the importance teachers place on care over ‘catch-up’.

Our project, ‘A duty of care and a duty to teach: educational priorities in response to the COVID-19 crisis’, explores how schools have been operating during this unique period of sudden and dramatic changes to daily life, and how these changes have affected primary teachers’ and school leaders’ thinking about education. Our first set of findings arise from a survey conducted in May via TeacherTapp, involving 1,653 participants.

The survey results reveal that teachers’ primary concern at the start of lockdown was with pupil welfare. When asked about their priorities in communicating with parents, the most popular option was checking how families are coping in terms of basic food, health and emotional needs. Headteachers in particular were regularly involved in (more…)

Covid-19 and early years education and care: not the time for baseline assessment

Blog Editor, IOE Digital25 June 2020

Guy Roberts-Holmes, Siew Fung Lee and Diana Sousa.

The Covid-19 crisis means that young children have had prolonged absence from nurseries, and lost the chance to interact with their peers.  As Shadow Schools Minister Margaret Greenwood has told the Government, ‘Some will have lost parents, grandparents or other family members, while others will have simply struggled, like millions of others across the UK, with living in lockdown, unable to play with their friends’.

This means that early years teachers and care workers need to focus even more than usual on children’s well-being and mental health. We argue that the DFE’s latest iteration of Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) is an unnecessary distraction at a time like this.

Fortunately, the DFE has taken on board our concerns and those of others and has just announced that the RBA’s introduction is to be postponed for a year.

As many parents, teachers and children have experienced, home learning is no easy substitute for socially inclusive and participatory (more…)

It looked as though our regulators were finally willing to trust teachers – but Ofqual’s latest guidance suggests otherwise

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 May 2020

Mary Richardson.

Over recent decades England has seen the gradual erosion of trust in teachers and in teaching as a profession. This suspicion and casual condemnation happens across many public spheres and is most prominent during August each year when the results of the GCSEs and A levels are picked over and hotly debated.

Of course 2020 will be very different as there will be no final exams. Instead the results days (13 August for A level and 20 August for GCSE) will see the release of grades that comprise a range of evidence provided by teachers and schools.

A casual view of any social media or news reports relating to education at present reveals a continual stream of concerns, questions and more than a healthy dose of rumour suggesting that these very high stakes assessments might disadvantage students both now and in the 2021 cycle.

Ofqual has been quick to respond to this and their consultation documents include a review of evidence from (more…)

What are ‘stuck’ schools and what sort of fresh thinking can help them move on?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital6 May 2020

Bernie Munoz, Melanie Ehren and Jo Hutchinson.

The government is making some assumptions about so-called ‘stuck’ or ‘intractable’ schools that need to be closely examined. One of these assumptions is that placing a small group of failing schools in special measures will cause them to improve in order to avoid job losses, bad reputation and school closure.

It is further assumed that multi-academy trusts will adopt schools with persistent difficulties and provide stronger leadership to resolve these – but it is also assumed that if failing schools don’t improve, they will ultimately disappear as a natural consequence of low enrolment and sanctions.

However, there is a group of schools in England that Ofsted has judged to be failing for more than a decade. Paradoxically, they have been unable to improve, nor have they disappeared. This would suggest that the competitive educational quasi-market falls short when trying to understand the complexities of the system.

We hope our current two year study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation will provide some (more…)

Education and Covid-19: why we need inspections when schools are shut down

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 April 2020

Melanie Ehren.

Ofsted’s decision to suspend all routine inspection from 17 March quickly became irrelevant, as schools closed and staff scrambled to organise distance learning and to support parents in homeschooling their children. Now that the lockdown looks set to continue for weeks or months, how can we ensure that children are receiving a decent education?

Are we to have no school inspections during lockdown? Or should we instead find new ways to evaluate teaching and learning?

I believe we should continue inspections, albeit in a different form. Ofsted should continue to assess teaching and learning for reasons of 1) transparency, 2) improvement and 3) preparing us for when schools open again. The approach I suggest would require a redesign of the current framework, applying it to the current context of homeschooling and distance learning with more agile, mobile tools to collect data. Let me explain. (more…)

In memory of Professor Harvey Goldstein (1939-2020): living by the evidence

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 April 2020

Gemma Moss.

Harvey Goldstein, who has died of Covid-19 at the age of 80, has left a formidable legacy from his work, both as a statistician and as a campaigner for more careful scrutiny of assessment data in education – whose misuse he consistently queried.

harvey-goldstein

Harvey’s career included posts at the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH); as Professor of Statistical Methods, Institute of Education (IOE), University of London, 1977 – 2004; and as Professor of Social Statistics at the School of Education, University of Bristol, 2005-2020, where he remained working right up until his death.

He represented a rare combination of statistical insight, rigour and inventiveness, coupled with a fierce desire to call out the abuse of data in public debate and broaden conceptions of what evidence-informed policy should really look like. In all these ways (more…)

Covid-19 and education: Why have we waited until now to improve the accuracy of predicted grades?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital3 April 2020

Gill Wyness

For students expecting to take their A-Levels and BTECs this summer, the impact of COVID-19 will be profound. Instead of taking the formal examinations that they were preparing for, Ofqual confirmed today that school leavers will be provided with a set of grades based on teacher judgement, which will, in turn, form the basis of their university applications. This plan has attracted a fair amount of criticism, with fears that the system may be biased, and might lead to certain groups of students missing out on a university place because of a bad prediction.

But it is worth noting that this is already how students apply to university, so it is perhaps surprising that there is suddenly such widespread resistance to the idea of predicted grades. However, my recent study with Richard Murphy (University of Texas at Austin) suggests that fears that these predicted grades might be inaccurate may be well-grounded.

The UK’s system of university applications has the peculiar feature that students apply to university on the basis of predicted rather than actual exam grades. In fact, only (more…)