Methods for Ensuring Reliability of Teacher Assessments

Sarah Maughan, Catharine Parkes

02 June 2009

Proceedings from the policy and research seminar on methods for ensuring reliability of teacher assessments

Towards the end of 2008, national assessment policy in England became subject to rapid change. On 14 October, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families announced the immediate end to national tests at Key Stage 3, a system that had been in place since the mid-1990s. In the same speech, an Expert Group was announced with the purpose of proposing revised arrangements, reporting in February 2009.

This seminar for assessment specialists took place on 9 January, 2009 and was designed to assemble as much advice and intelligence as possible to support the development of new arrangements.

The basis of discussion was a belief that the recently-announced changes to KS3 assessment arrangements confronted many of the structural problems which had accumulated in the system. However, the suddenness of the announcement left a question as to what arrangements should replace them, and when. The Expert Group would face considerable challenge in terms of the urgency of their work and the seminar was designed to feed into their advisory processes. It tackled:

  • the underlying principles and purposes which should drive the revised arrangements;
  • the range of alternative models which might exist and should be explored;
  • the shortcomings of previous attempts to put in place a sample-based methodology for monitoring national standards, including a look at international experiences;
  • issues around teacher assessment;
  • the nature of the development process for new arrangements.

Contributions were made by Chris Whetton (National Foundation for Educational Research), Tim Oates (Cambridge Assessment) and Gordon Stobart (Institute of Education, representing the Nuffield-Foundation-sponsored Assessment Reform Group).

This report summarises the presentations and discussions. The seminar operated under the Chatham House rule, but the three presenters have given permission for their views to be attributed.