Now is the time to think about the future of assessment

25/11/2013Andrew Hall, Chief Executive, AQA

We already know direction of assessment policy for the next few years. The current Government is undertaking major reforms to GCSEs and A-levels to raise the bar and increase the rigour of assessment. The Opposition is developing its policies to focus on high-quality vocational pathways and ensure that assessment helps to support all students’ progression. So the big question isn’t what assessment policy will look like in five years, but what will happen in a decade’s time and beyond. That is the conversation that we want to start.

There are a number of fundamental elements of the current assessment system that all those involved may not like but have learned to live with through necessity: the interaction between assessment and accountability, wavering confidence in exam boards and Ofqual, the negligible role of teacher assessment in determining outcomes, the absence of 21st century technology… the list goes on.

So we want to ask, if we started from scratch, what would we want our assessment system to achieve? What would it look like, and how could it ensure that students are equipped with the skills they need?

We believe that long-term thinking is crucial in moving beyond the limits of five year Parliaments and are keen to ask what could assessment look like in 10-15 years, what would policymakers like it to look like, and can consensus be secured to achieve effective reform over the years to deliver that vision. This is really an opportunity for “blue skies” thinking, unbounded by the reality of how the system is today but instead focusing – at least to start with – on what a really great assessment system would look like. Then we’ll try to work our way back and figure out how we might get there.

We don’t have all the answers. That’s why it’s so important that this project is a collaboration. We are very fortunate to be able to draw on the expertise of key UK and international thinkers in the sector including teachers, academics, employers and policymakers. Each week, an expert will share their thoughts in answer to one of the big challenges facing the future of assessment.

And we want you to get involved too. Share your thoughts on our website, YouTube channel and on Twitter. If you’ve got an idea, blog or video it and we’ll share it through our website. I look forward to the debate.