Professor Melanie Ehren, University College London Institute of Education and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Professor Christopher Chapman, Policy Scotland reflect on some fundamental questions about the roles and purposes of public exams and how these were not taken adequately into account when deciding on alternative grading arrangements
Public exams inform decisions about qualifications of students for the labour market or next levels of education.Grades for specific subjects decide someone’s access into university or are used by employers to hire someone for a specific role or job.
As public exams have wider consequences than just to inform in-school teaching or decision-making (e.g. on grade repetition or progression), the responsibility for an accurate outcome is therefore not solely one for individual teachers, but also for the school and education policymakers and regulators (Department for Education, Ofqual in England and Learning Directorate, Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) in Scotland).
The question is then also who is best able to make an informed decision about the competencies of individual students and the grades they should be awarded? The teacher? The school? Some external agency who doesn’t know the individual student personally, such as Ofqual or SQA?
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