Centre for Assessment
Information about assessment
Monitoring is the name given to a programme of testing. The purpose of this programme is to keep a record of pupils’ performance over time. The reason for doing this is to make judgements about the maintenance of standards in schools.
One of the roles of National Curriculum assessment is to monitor standards. To achieve this end, the most recent National Curriculum test results are compared with those from previous years. Before the implementation of the National Curriculum, the role of monitoring standards was the task of the Assessment of Performance Unit.
In order to monitor changes in performance, groups of pupils have to be tested regularly and systematically over time. Each group has to be a representative sample of the relevant cohort of pupils. The Assessment of Performance Unit developed new attainment tests and carried out assessments of successive samples of pupils over a period of several years. National Curriculum assessment is somewhat different in that its tests are developed to fulfil a variety of roles and not solely for monitoring standards. Furthermore, the tests are not taken by a sample of pupils but by the whole cohort.
New attainment tests are produced every year for the National Curriculum. This has both disadvantages and advantages in terms of their use in a monitoring role. For consistency of approach, it would be helpful to be able to use the same test on successive occasions. However, an attainment test risks becoming less valid if used repeatedly, because tests have to be revised in order to allow for curricular and cultural changes.