Mansell W, James M, Baird J, Black P, Daugherty R, Ecclestone K, Gardner J, Harlen W, Hayward L, Newton P & Stobart G (2009) Assessment in schools: Fit for purpose? A Commentary by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Economic and Social Research Council. TLRP Commentaries, 13. Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP). http://www.tlrp.org/pub/documents/assessment.pdf
First paragraph: Perhaps no area of education policy is as contentious - or as consistently newsworthy - as assessment. Recent headlines show how emotive and controversial it can be: "Tests blamed for blighting children's lives"; "New fears over dumbing down of key exams"; "Science exam standards ‘eroded'".
The public, formal, face of assessment - typically "high-stakes" examinations such as GCSEs, A-levels, Scottish Highers, the Welsh Baccalaureate or national curriculum tests in England - often dominates debate. But all good teachers also use assessment informally in the classroom to judge what progress pupils have made with their understanding, and to provide information on how they can be helped to move forward.
It is the interplay between the various forms of assessment, the uses to which the results of assessment judgments are put, and the consequent effects on teaching and learning that make this such a fascinating, significant and yet contentious, area for research, policy-making and discussion.
This commentary is an attempt to clarify some of the debates, bringing to bear the findings from extensive research, especially research from the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) and the Assessment Reform Group (ARG), and to argue that this evidence needs to inform any future developments in assessment policy.
Authored by John Gardner as part of the Assessment Reform Group (ARG). Members of the ARG in 2009 are: Jo-Anne Baird (University of Bristol), Paul Black (King’s College London), Richard Daugherty (University of Cardiff), Kathryn Ecclestone (Birmingham University), John Gardner (Queen’s University Belfast), Wynne Harlen (University of Bristol), Louise Hayward (University of Glasgow), Mary James (University of Cambridge), Paul Newton (Cambridge Assessment), Gordon Stobart (Institute of Education London).
This publication should be cited as: Mansell, W., James, M. & the Assessment Reform Group (2009) Assessment in schools. Fit for purpose? A Commentary by the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. London: Economic and Social Research Council, Teaching and Learning Research Programme.