Assessment of the National Curriculum - some fundamental considerations

This paper addresses the considerable assessment problems posed by the fact that variations in difficulty are found between tasks with identical specifications. Context has a strong effect on performance, which limits the usefulness of generalised context‐free statements of attainment as accurate descriptions of individual pupils’ educational attainment. Such descriptions are used to define the National Curriculum but their use for assessment purposes leads to assessment procedures which, whilst giving results no more descriptive of what pupils can do than more conventional procedures, are liable to be much less accurate, reliable and fair. It is suggested that more conventional assessment procedures would still permit separate reporting of profile components and would be more appropriate techniques for assessing the National Curriculum.

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