In my previous blog I looked at the ways in which the marking of examinations in England is particularly problematic in subjects like History and English. For a full review of this, you may like to read Ofqual’s blog and report on the subject. Today I want to deal with the question of what action the educational establishment might take.
GCSE and A-Level examinations are still being held up vital to the education system. The impetus has been to seek to cement their place as the “gold standard” both nationally and internationally. If we want this to be true in reality, I wonder if we need a more fundamental rethink of what examinations (especially GCSE examinations) are for and therefore what they might be in an educational landscape which is vastly different from that of the late 1980s when GCSEs were first introduced.
What are GCSE examinations for?
The seemingly simple question of the purpose of GCSE examinations is actually very complex indeed. But of course, as with all assessment, validity is heavily connected to the inferences one wants to draw from an exam (Wiliam, 2014). The range of inferences which are suggested as valid from a set of GCSE examinations are extremely diverse: