Individual students should not be held back by the current “one-size-fits-all” approach to qualifications and assessment, a new report from Pearson has concluded.
In its new study on the future of qualifications and assessment in England, Pearson calls for incremental reform to the system and the fostering of “a culture of innovation in assessment.”
The call comes at a time when many in the independent and state sectors are looking to review how the education system assesses and rewards young people at aged 16, with organisations such as Rethinking Assessment leading the way.
A summary of the Pearson report says: “We need to dramatically improve how we are assessing skills. Too many assessments are testing what can easily be assessed rather than what should be assessed, with a greater focus on reliability at the expense of validity.
“Rules governing funding or performance measure recognition are heavily prescriptive, leaving little room for innovation. And the drive towards terminal assessment has led to teachers feeling they have a reduced stake in the assessment of their learners.
“Our research revealed instances where assessments were not testing real skills, rather their comprehension of a skill, with the consequence that students become turned off education.”
The report calls for the potential reintroduction of different forms of assessment, including internal tests and coursework.
The system should allow “a safe space to develop these processes within a regulated framework” and this would would “help to drive flexibility in assessment,” the report summary said.
The report made a series of other recommendations, including overhauling the EBacc measure so pupils can be more creative, scrapping GCSE resits and allowing alternative qualifications, increasing curriculum diversity, and improving digital strategy.
Lord Blunkett, a former education secretary who formed part of the study’s expert panel, said: “While GCSEs work for the majority, others are unable to reach the standard needed and require an alternative. It is wrong to suggest that these young people cannot progress, when it is our actions which are narrowing their options, denying them choice and putting barriers in the way of success.
“For every learner who can master trigonometry or craft a compelling essay on Great Expectations, we need others who understand the dimensions for a stable road bridge or can draft an email to drive forward a business project. Taking action to make sure everyone can meet their potential will benefit England as a whole.”
The report is the culmination of research and consultation involving over 6,000 employers, teachers, learners and parents. It draws on an expert panel including Lord Blunkett, Lord Baker, Dame Alison Peacock and Professor Julia Buckingham.