School exams: what's really happening to ‘standards’?

School exams: what's really happening to ‘standards’?

13 October 2011:  We are delighted that the regulator, Ofqual, is building on our 'Exam standards: the big debate', the findings of which were sent to the Government in September of last year. The debate, evidence and recommendations are freely available to anybody interested on our website. Before Ofqual embarks on its review, it would be well advised to take our findings into account. In essence, we found there were different challenges associated with different types of exam but that these are related to the changing purposes of examinations, not a simplistic matter of 'too easy' or 'too hard'. Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research & Development, spoke at Ofqual's event on 13 October. 

Cambridge Assessment hosted an open and frank debate on 29 April 2010 in order to clarify public understanding of the different examination standard issues. Over 100 people including teachers, assessment experts, employers and journalists attended.  The debate was streamed live and nearly 1000 people watched the proceedings online.

Tim Oates, Group Director of Assessment Research and Development, Cambridge Assessment, commented that exam boards bowing to political pressure to make GCSEs and A levels more "accessible" could be one reason for the increase in top grades. 

Other panellists included: Professor Roger Murphy, Centre for Developing and Evaluating Lifelong Learning, University of Nottingham; John Bangs, Assistant Secretary of Education, National Union of Teachers; Professor Gordon Stobart, Institute of Education, University of London; and Anastasia de Waal, Director of Family and Education at Civitas.

The debate is a part of our campaign to clarify public understanding of the different examination standard issues. The debate also continued on our online discussion – Let’s talk exam standards

On 29 November 2010, an Early Day Motion ‘EDM 1099: Exam Standards’ was tabled by Ian Mearns MP. The Early Day Motion draws attention to the report’s recommendations and calls on the Government to act on these recommendations.

We hope that the recommendations in our report will inform future policy.

View the podcasts from this event.

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