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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…)

Exams shape students’ future life chances. It is vital to share our knowledge on how we set and maintain standards

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 September 2018

Tina Isaacs and Lena Gray. 
As we wind down from a relatively calm examination season – even with the introduction of new examinations this year – some of us continue to mull over the idea of ‘standards’ in examination systems.
What does the term ‘standards’ mean, anyway? It crops up everywhere in the world of assessment. In England, exam boards and Ofqual, which offer general qualifications like GCSEs and A levels, have to try to make sure that grades have the same meaning across subjects, in different years, and even between competing exam boards – a Sisyphean task that is fraught with technical challenges. This is an area in which assessment researchers like us can see our work having real impact, and there are plenty of exciting developments to shape new thinking. One of those developments is the publication on 10 September by the UCL IOE press of a new book called Exam standards: how measures and meanings differ around the world.
Standard setting in national exams is a topic of interest throughout the global assessment community, yet opportunities for information sharing are rare, given the politically sensitive (more…)