Via a Tweet from @HeadsRoundtable we came across this research from The Centre for Educational Assessment at Oxford University. What was interesting is that, again, so much of what the genuine research tells us about what works in education runs entirely contrary to the many of the messages put out by the Department for Education, the Secretary of State, government minsters and their, ahem, agents for several years, messages they have used to justify their reforms to the exam system.

See what you think:

England’s Performance in International Test Scores

What the government says:

‘Today’s PISA report underlines the urgent need to reform our school system.’

What the research says:

‘International test scores for England show no decline.’

Grade Inflation

What the government says:

‘It has become easier to get an A at A-level or GCSE than it used to be, and that’s a problem…’

What the research says:

‘Evidence for grade inflation is mixed.’

Raising standards

What the government says:

‘Grade inflation (sic) “discredits the integrity of our education system” and GCSEs, A-levels and degrees must get “tougher”.’

What the research says:

‘Raising the level of demand in examinations will not in itself raise standards of achievement.’

Aspiration and Motivation

What the government says:

‘Critical to reform is ending an exam system that has narrowed the curriculum… It is time to raise aspirations and restore rigour to our examinations.’

What the research says:

‘Most young people in England have high aspirations… Proposals for the reforms to GCSE present a combination of policies that are jointly unlikely to foster a growth mindset.’

Modular Examinations

What the government says:

‘Sitting and passing modules has become the be-all and end-all, instead of achieving a real, lasting understanding and love of a subject.’

What the research says:

‘Modular assessment has not been found to be consistently easier than end of course examinations… Students find the feedback from modular examination results useful.’

End of Course Assessments

What the government says:

‘The current GCSE and A level system allows for re-sits of modules, which can be seen as undermining the qualifications and educationally inappropriate.’

What the research says:

‘High stakes end of course examinations have been found to produce backwash effects on teaching and learning. These include narrowing of the curriculum and drilling of students… Additionally, rote learning rather than broad and deep approaches has been fostered by raising the stakes of tests.’

Teacher Assessment

The government says:

‘Internal assessment… should be kept to a minimum and used only where there is a compelling case to do so.’

What the research says:

‘Assessment for learning practices have been adopted by governments internationally, due to research findings showing that the principles can have a large impact upon learning’ adding that, where there are concerns about the practice, ‘systems have been implemented in high stakes assessments to address these issues’.

Assessing the Whole Ability Range

The government says:

‘…the (tier) system made it impossible for thousands of students to achieve the decent grades needed to get good jobs and proceed onto A-level courses.’

The research says:

‘A great deal of research has been conducted on methods of assessing the whole ability range’ and goes on to cite six different ways it can be done with tiering number one on their list.

As we say on Twitter #justsaying

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