Crises, failures and storms in teacups. What can be done?
The problematic awarding of GCSEs and A levels during the pandemic has caused government to reflect on the resilience of England’s qualification system. Indeed, crises and failures of one kind or another are a recurrent feature. This Ofqual-funded project spans the whole of the qualification market, including many thousands of vocational and technical qualifications. It looks to the resilience literature from other complex systems to devise a definition of qualification system resilience. It investigates resilience and threats to resilience through: desk-based analysis of published evidence (including how other qualification systems in other countries responded to the pandemic); an analysis of previous examination crises and failures spanning decades; and interviews with over twenty senior industry insiders and commentators. It makes a series of policy recommendations for Ofqual and wider government but also questions the usefulness of the concept of resilience.
This invited symposium, which took place at St Anne’s College, Oxford on 26th March 2015, was hosted by Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director, OUCEA and Glenys Stacey, Chief Regulator, Ofqual.
The programme is available here. Ofqual has issued a press release about the symposium and Glenys Stacey has published a blog. You can follow some of the issues from the day and contribute to the discussion on twitter at #ethicssymp. The event has been mentioned in the media:
• Daily Mail article, How teachers help pupils to cheat in exams: Tactics used to bend rules revealed by more than 500 whistleblowers, 27 April 2015
• Sunday Times article, Teachers’ tricks for helping pupils cheat, 26 April 2015
Below you will find some relevant background resources as well as presentations from the day. Please contact OUCEA Admin if you have trouble accessing any resources.
Professor Jo-Anne Baird, Director, OUCEA: Introduction
Dr Ardeshir Geranpayeh, Head of Psychometrics & Data Services,Cambridge English Language Assessment: Teacher Malpractice in Assessment: the International Context
Dr Michelle Meadows, Director of Research and Evaluation, Ofqual: Teacher Ethics in Summative Assessment
Geraldine Davies, Principal, The UCL Academy: The Rational Teacher
Professor Paola Mattei, Associate Professor in Comparative Social Policy, University of Oxford: The Ethics of Accountability in Education Assessment
Please click on the links to the resources below.
• Association of School and College Leaders Leading the way: Blueprint for a self-improving system (Feb 2015)
• Department for Education National standards of excellence for head teachers: Departmental advice for headteachers, governing boards and aspiring headteachers (Jan 2015)
• Department for Education Teachers’ standards: Guidance for school leaders, school staff and governing bodies (Jul 2011)
• General Teaching Council for England Code of Conduct and Practice for Registered Teachers: Setting minimum standards for the regulation of the profession (Jun 2004)
• Mattei, P. (2012) Raising educational standards: national testing of pupils in the United Kingdom, 1988-2009, Policy Studies, 33(3), 231-247. The abstract is available here.
• Mattei, P. (2012) Market accountability in schools: policy reforms in England, Germany, France and Italy, Oxford Review of Education, 38(3), 247-266. The abstract is available here.
• National Council on Measurement in Education Newsletter Vol. 22 No. 1 (Mar 2014) [Pages 5-11 have articles on “Unintentional Cheating”.]
• Newton, P. (2013) List of resources relevant to cheating in GCSE coursework
• Perryman, J., Ball, S., Maguire, M. & Braun, A. (2011) Life in the Pressure Cooker – School League Tables and English and Mathematics Teachers’ Responses to Accountability in a Results-Driven Era, British Journal of Educational Studies, 59(2), 179-195. The abstract is available here.
• Taylor, R. (2013) Early entry to GCSE. Centre for Education Research and Policy, AQA.
• Taylor, R. (2015) A qualitative study of entry and teaching strategies for GCSE mathematics (Summary paper). Centre for Education Research and Practice, AQA.
• West, A., Mattei, P. & Roberts, J. (2011) Accountability and Sanctions in English Schools, British Journal of Educational Studies, 59(1), 41-62. The abstract is available here.
Please click on the links to the resources below.
• Ardeshir Geranpayeh presentation on detecting cheating and plagiarism (podcast)
• BERA Annual Conference 2011: Presentation from Baroness Onora O’Neill
Intelligent Accountability in Education (podcast)
• Paul Newton presentation on the problem with performance indicators (Powerpoint)
• Paul Newton presentation on coursework, controlled assessment and allegations of cheating (Powerpoint)
• SSAT National Conference 2013: Presentation from Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser, Vancouver Island University. (The first three links below are podcasts; the fourth is a Powerpoint.)
Intelligent Accountability 
Intelligent Accountability 
Intelligent Accountability  – discussion
Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser presentation
• CNN news coverage on the Atlanta public schools cheating scandal
The Scottish Qualifications Authority have today released reports on stakeholders’ views of national assessments in Scotland, four of which were conducted in conjunction with the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment and Glasgow University.
Professor Jo-Anne Baird at the University of Oxford and one of the co-authors of the research, said: “Public confidence in national qualifications is incredibly important for learners.
“Our findings show that people want a qualification system that fits modern Scottish society – one that is learner-focused, with choice, flexibility, and the capacity to adapt to the needs of learners with different skills and in a range of contexts.”
The research has been published on SQA’s website to support discussion around the future of assessment in Scotland.
See the article on our findings in the TES magazine.
Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) is returning to The Ashmolean for its annual lecture, after two years of pandemic. We are hosting our annual lecture for 2022 with a celebration of what has been achieved during the past years and to look into the future of assessment.
We invite you to the stunning venue of The Ashmolean Museum in the heart of Oxford on the 18th of July 2022 at 5pm to experience our guest speakers discuss The Future of Assessment.
The historic event will be followed by a drinks reception in the Mallett Gallery.
Our guest speaker this year is Professor Art Graesser, a long-standing visiting professor and champion of OUCEA. Art Graesser is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology and the Institute of Intelligent Systems at the University of Memphis, and Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Oxford. His talk will be followed by reflections from two guest speakers, Enterprise Professor Sandra Milligan, Director of the Assessment Research Centre at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, and our own Deputy Director of OUCEA, Associate Professor Joshua McGrane.
Professor Therese N. Hopfenbeck, Director of OUCEA, will convene the seminar.
This event is free and open to all. We strongly encourage you to book a ticket soon to avoid any disappointment, as The Ashmolean can only host 100 guests.
Samantha-Kaye Johnston is a Research Officer at the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA).
Samantha-Kaye was formally educated in Jamaica, where she completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology. In England, she received her Master of Arts in Education and then completed her Ph.D. in Psychology in Australia. Using a cognitive psychology lens, Samantha’s expertise and interest lie at the intersection of education and psychology. She aims to link these areas with evidence-based e-learning technologies to improve teaching, learning, and assessment outcomes.
Samantha has 10+ years of experience in the project management sector, where she has been actively involved in education development initiatives. In 2016, as part of her Project Capability, she founded the Marlon Christie scholarship, which provides a scholarship for Jamaican students with reading difficulties to attend university. As an extension of this project, Samantha founded Reading for Humanity, to elevate the science of reading, the science of learning, and the science of technology within the classroom. Her work is informed by her experience as an advocate and researcher in Jamaica, England, and Australia, primarily within the K-12 sector, as well as within non-governmental, private, community organisations, and United Nations bodies.
She has experience as a University Associate at Curtin University and Teaching Associate at Monash University, as part of their undergraduate and graduate psychology teaching teams. Within this space, she has been teaching and/or assessing various psychology units, including Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Science and Professional Practice in Psychology, and Indigenous and Cross-Cultural Psychology.
During her time in the ed-tech sector, and in collaboration with UNESCO’s Future of Education Initiative, she conceptualised and spearheaded Project Seat-at-the-Table (Project SAT), an international qualitative research initiative that aimed at providing primary and secondary school students with the opportunity to provide their input on the future of technology in their education. As an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Samantha’s seeks to strengthen internet governance within online learning. In particular, she is interested in ensuring that the rights of young students are protected while they interact within the digital space, including elevating the voices of students in decision-making processes.
Above all, Samantha believes that every child should have the same opportunity to shape their destiny, emphasing that we cannot always build the future for them, but we can build them for the future. Consequently, her goal is to ensure that teachers implement evidence-based pedagogical approaches that will strengthen 21st-century skills, including, critical thinking and creativity, in all students.
Professor Stobart is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) and Emeritus Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University College London.
He has worked in education as a teacher, psychologist, policy researcher and academic. His expertise is in assessment, with much of his recent work focusing on Assessment for Learning.
After teaching for eight years in secondary schools in Africa and Inner London he retrained, and worked, as an Educational Psychologist. This led to a Fulbright Scholarship in the USA, where he gained a PhD for research into the integration of special needs students in mainstream classrooms.
Returning to the UK he worked as an assessment researcher for 20 years, firstly with an exam board and then with government agencies. These posts led to wide experience with assessment policy and the development of national qualifications and assessments.
His move to the University of London Institute of Education provided the opportunity to further develop his work on the formative role of assessment. As a founder member of the Assessment Reform Group he has worked for over twenty years on developing Assessment for Learning, an approach which now has international recognition. He continues to work on international projects in this area.
His Testing Times: The uses and abuses of assessment (Routledge, 2008) focused on the impact of assessment, while his current focus is on how expertise develops and the implications for classroom teaching and learning. His book on this is The Expert Learner: Challenging the myth of ability (2014, OUP/McGraw-Hill).
Much of his current professional work involves working with teachers on classroom teaching and learning – and the role formative assessment plays in this.
Recent conference presentations
- Sept. 2019, Effective Learning – What matters most? Britanico Conference, Lima Peru.
- July 2019, Schools matter, but they don’t make a difference’ – examining the genetic claims of Robert Plomin LondonEd Research Conference for Schools
- January 2019, Developing effective assessment for learning, Kompatense Norge Conference, Norway.
- Nov. 2018, Teaching, Learning and Assessing for Today and Tomorrow, Aga Khan University, Pakistan.
- Nov. 2017, Can examinations ever be fair? Investigating equal opportunities, meritocracy and validity.43rd IAEA Conference Batumi, Georgia
- June 2017, Expert learning and teaching, IEA Assessment Conference, Adelaide.
- ADIE, L., STOBART, G. & CUMMING, J. (in press) The construction of the teacher as expert assessor, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education.
- BOYD, E., GREEN, A., HOPFENBECK, T. & STOBART, G (2019) Effective Feedback: The key to successful Assessment for Learning, Oxford University Press
- GOLDSTEIN, H., MOSS, G., SAMMONS, P., SINOTT, G. & STOBART, G. (2018) A baseline without basis: The validity and utility of the proposed reception baseline assessment in England, London: British Educational Research Association.
- STOBART, G. (2018) Becoming proficient: An alternative perspective on the role of feedback. The Cambridge handbook of instructional feedback, Eds A.L. Lipnevich and J.K. Smith, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 29-51.
- BAIRD, J., ANDRICH, D., HOPFENBECK, T.N. & STOBART, G. (2017) Assessment and Learning: fields apart? Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 24, 1, 317-350.
- STOBART, G (2016), Assessment and Learner Identity, Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, Dordrecht, Springer Press, 1-6.
- T.N. HOPFENBECK & G. STOBART (Eds) (2015) Assessment for Learning: Lessons learned from large-scale evaluations of implementations. Special Issue of Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 22, 1, 1-177.
- STOBART, G. (2014) What is 21st Century Learning – and what part does classroom assessment play? Assessment and Learning 3, 1-14; Hong Kong Education Bureau.
- STOBART, G. (2014) The Expert Learner; Challenging the myth of ability, Maidenhead, McGraw-Hill/Open University Press.
- EGGEN, T.J.H.M. & STOBART, G. (Eds) (2014) High Stakes Testing in Education: Value, fairness and consequences, London, Routledge.
- STOBART, G. & HOPFENBECK, T.N. (2014) Assessment for Learning and formative assessment, in BAIRD, J-A., HOPFENBECK, T., NEWTON, P., STOBART, G. & STEEN-UTHEIM, A.T. State of the Field Review of Assessment and Learning, Norwegian Knowledge Centre for Education study 13/4697.
- STOBART, G. & EGGEN, T. (2012) High-stakes testing – value, fairness and consequences, Assessment in Education, 19,1, 1-6.
- STOBART, G. (2012) Validity in formative assessment, in J.GARDNER (Ed.) Assessment and Learning, 2nd Edition, London, Sage.
- BAIRD, J., ISAACS, T., JOHNSON, S., STOBART, G., YU, G., SPRAGUE, T. AND DAUGHERTY, R.
(2011) Policy Effects of PISA.
- BAIRD, J., ELWOOD, J., DUFFY, G., FEILER, A., O’BOYLE, A., ROSE, J. & STOBART, G. (2011) 14–19 Centre Research Study: Educational Reforms in Schools and Colleges in England Annual Report. London: QCDA.
- STOBART, G. (2011) Validity in formative assessment, in J.GARDNER (Ed.) Assessment and Learning, 2nd Edition, London, Sage.