Moving away from end-of-course exams towards a more “portfolio approach” to assessment could be a fairer way to judge students’ abilities in a subject, the founding head of Ofqual has said, The Independent reports.
Isabel Nisbet’s comments come a week after the results of this year’s A-level and GCSE exams were published, with Covid cancellation meaning assessment was carried out by teachers based on evidence such as mock exams, classwork and homework.
Grades have sky-rocketed leading some to say teachers were able to make a better all-round assessment of their students under the temporary system, while others were appalled by “rampant grade inflation”.
Ms Nisbet, who was the first chief executive of Ofqual, said she hoped grading would move towards using a “portfolio” of evidence, as happened this year, in future years.
“We are just beginning to think – all of this discussion about the new normal – are we just going to go back with a sigh of relief to good old exams again? I think it is an open question,” she said.
Speaking about the current system which relies heavily on exams, Ms Nisbet said: “If you wanted a system with a snapshot taken at the end of the course – say I am a student – of my knowledge and skills against a tightly defined curriculum, I think it is as fair as they come.”
But, given the depth A-levels go into, she asked: “Is that the best way to assess my knowledge, skills and understanding in this whole subject area?”
Ms Nisbet said: “Would a fairer way be to have a range of sources of evidence, including modules, or project work, or practical work, which some subjects do?”
She added: “On the whole, my personal answer to that is: yes, it would be fairer to have a wider range.”