Comparability of examination standards

Comparability of examination standards

Cambridge Assessment has been involved in research into the comparability of examination standards for many years.  In 2009, we developed a dedicated programme of research in this important field.

With many new qualifications being introduced and international comparisons taking place, comparability is becoming increasingly important in the assessment world. But it is important to understand what exactly we mean by comparability, and to understand what we are comparing and why. 

Comparability of examination standards is a multifaceted and contentious area of research, involving practical dilemmas and complex theoretical modelling of the issues, which have been complicated by a lack of clarity in the terminology being used. Finding effective methodological solutions to inform practice is a challenge which has been exercising researchers in the field for many years.

At a recent seminar hosted by the Cambridge Assessment Network, a panel of our researchers led a discussion on the issues surrounding comparability.  Participants also discussed the methods for establishing comparability, public understanding of the issues and identified possible directions for the future.  

In 1911, it was believed that "If a test is to carry any weight outside the school, there must be some approximation to uniformity of standard in assessing attainment."  Much of this still applies today, and during the seminar our researchers also provided an insight into the issues facing the education system 100 years ago, comparing it to the present day.

At Cambridge Assessment, our approach is research-led and evidence based. We have the largest research capability of its kind; our researchers pioneer the latest techniques and evaluate current assessments.

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