Linguist and Cambridge Centre Exams Manager, Amanda Jane Lowles wanted a greater understanding of what practices went into the creation of her Centre’s assessments. By utilising the A10 courses offered by Cambridge Assessment Network, Amanda has now gained this important expertise.
Originally from West Yorkshire, England, Amanda has been working in English language teaching for almost 30 years, first as a teacher and then as a Cambridge Speaking Examiner and Centre Exams Manager. Along the way, Amanda has also worked as a supervisor for Cambridge English Exams as well as a Cambridge (IGCSE) International Examiner for written examinations.
Amanda holds a Bachelor’s Degree and a Masters’ Degree in Education (Applied Linguistics) and is also a professionally certified translator with the Chartered Institute of Linguists, London, UK specializing in Business and medical translation – as well as a trained Cambridge examiner for all levels.
“I originally came to Italy in 1993, where I opened my own language centre, English Express Language Centre Bari. We are a point of reference for those who want to learn or improve their English in the southern region of Italy and in 2017, my centre became a Cambridge Authorised Centre, (IT997). At the centre, we offer preparation courses and delivery for Cambridge exams covering all available levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2) as well as CPSQ, TSA, Cambridge Linguaskill, TKT and CELTA.”
Learning the language of assessment
With her close ties to Cambridge, Amanda regularly comes across CPD courses, which help enhance her assessment expertise. In 2019, Amanda noticed the training provided by Cambridge Assessment Network.
Cambridge Assessment Network provides professional development to the global assessment community. They equip practitioners with the skills and knowledge needed to design and develop effective assessments, from an understanding of the key principles to in-depth and practice-based learning in the design and delivery of successful, valid assessments.
In April 2019, Amanda began to complete courses with Cambridge Assessment Network to further solidify her assessment expertise and understanding of the examinations in her own centre. Amanda decided to start with A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment, to set a solid foundation for her future learning.
“A101 is the course which offers you the fundamentals of assessment. I saw it was designed for examiners and anyone involved in assessment, and that interested me a great deal as I knew it would enhance my own professional knowledge. A101 is a fantastic tool for getting to grips with the key principles of assessment such as validity, reliability, and fairness. It’s very well made, and it remains interesting throughout for those concerned with assessment.”
A101 is the course which offers you the fundamentals of assessment. I saw it was designed for examiners and anyone involved in assessment, and that interested me a great deal as I knew it would enhance my own professional knowledge.”
Amanda quickly followed up on her positive experience with A101 by signing up for its sister course A102: Introducing assessment practice in July 2019.
“This is a course for people like me who are interested in the designing and creation of assessment materials. The setting and maintaining of standards are very important concepts for an Exams Centre Manager to understand and implement, so A102 was a must for me. A102 also gives a behind-the-scenes look at why examinations are created in a particular way - allowing those who work with these materials to have a better grasp of the thought processes behind the assessments.”
With both A101 and A102 completed, Amanda carried on her journey to assessment fluency by completing both A103: Introducing Data Literacy and A104: Psychometrics in Educational Assessment in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
“Both of these courses explore some interesting areas. A103 really highlighted the art of storytelling with data as well as how to make the most of data – from collection and management through to visualization and the range of purposes for which data can be used."
“A104 again explored reliability, validity, and fairness, but in an elevated sense by focusing on the analysis of assessment data in an educational setting. In order for centres to provide an excellent level of customer service, we have to have a good grasp of what goes on behind the scenes regarding the principles of assessment.”
Achieving assessment fluency
With all of the current A10s courses now completed, Amanda has continued to hone her practice by participating in Cambridge Assessment Network workshops. These workshops have included: Computer adaptive testing and Assessing 'competence': Definitions, challenges and strategies.
“The computer adaptive testing workshop was of particular interest to me as we are an Italian Channel partner for the innovative Cambridge Linguaskill test, which is marked by computer adaptive testing.“
“A real highlight of the Cambridge Assessment Network offering is the fact that it is online, which makes it accessible to anyone across the world. Professional development is very important, and I try to do something every year to continue my journey in assessment. Being able to access leading Cambridge knowledge from Italy is very handy. The content is engaging and clear, and I hope A105 is released in the near future.”
A real highlight of the Cambridge Assessment Network offering is the fact that it is online, which makes it accessible to anyone across the world. Professional development is very important, and I try to do something every year to continue my journey in assessment.”
“In my role as a Centre Exams Manager, having a deeper insight into assessments is vital. We deal with candidates and their aspirations, so it’s important to have a firm awareness of what work goes into our assessments. I think Cambridge Assessment Network courses would be of interest to many centre employees across the global Cambridge group. Mainly, as they help you better understand the thought process behind examinations.”
Joining a global assessment community
Amanda has also invested in becoming a Member of Cambridge Assessment Network to support the growth of her assessment knowledge. Due to the fact, Amanda has completed over 60 hours of Cambridge Assessment Network courses she has also received an Award for her demonstrated an ongoing commitment to CPD.
“It’s very rewarding to receive an award for my work in developing my assessment expertise. The award highlights my dedication to assessment and is an excellent way to showcase and promote my Centre to my audience. I think Membership is a great proposition for those who are interested in developing and enhancing their assessment knowledge.”
Despite building a successful business since her move to Italy, Amanda has some big goals for the future.
“In terms of my Centre, I hope we continue to expand the assessment side of our offering, as well as the teacher-training we provide. Currently, we offer an extensive calendar of paper-based and computer-based examination sessions from the Young Learners English Tests (YLE) to Proficiency (CPE) in Apulia and Basilicata, southern Italy. We also organize an extensive support program for schools and teachers as well as information sessions, seminars, teacher training sessions, award ceremonies and ongoing support for candidates – so there’s lots of room for growth in 2023."
"I’m going to continue to develop myself through the CPD courses and workshops offered by Cambridge Assessment Network. I would encourage anyone to use these courses as I know from personal experience, they can help you grow your assessment skillset and promote a deeper understanding of assessment as a whole. I think the A10 courses are highly relevant to my context as a Cambridge Exam Centre Manager and would be to others involved in the world of assessment. Fundamentally, the courses are easy to access, interesting and they keep you engaged in the content throughout."
If you are looking to develop your knowledge of assessment, check out all the latest opportunities from Cambridge Assessment Network.