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When qualifications fail: Reforming 14-19 assessment

This paper argues for a radical re-think of the way we approach 14-19 curriculum and assessment. The comparability framework has obscured and undermined the essential purposes of assessment, and constrained exam boards’ ability to develop meaningful assessments for young people that meet both their own and the nuanced requirements of further/higher education and employers. The government's programme aims to challenge low expectations and make assessment more demanding, but its increasingly top-down, one-size-fits-all approach looks likely to discourage participation, and reduce the scope for young people to explore and demonstrate their aptitude for subjects beyond the core. If we are to develop the skills Britain needs to succeed, there must be greater scope for innovation and diversity than the present proposals allow. A competitive market for qualifications is crucial. Praise for 'When qualifications fail'

As former Managing Director of a major exam board for over ten years, I have read innumerable reports on the problems with our qualifications system, but never one that has the insight of the CMRE perspective. Finally, we have an analysis that critically addresses the fundamentals at play in the assessment process, and lays bare the futility of the existing structures.
The report brings welcome clarity to the question of the culpability or otherwise of exam boards in undermining confidence in standards, showing how they are merely an instrument of flawed policy, rather than masters of the assessment programme. While my own view is that we will always need a regulator, it is evident from this report that its role and remit needs re-thinking.
If we are to truly reform our 14-19 education and assessment, then we will have to take bold steps – and this research report is a very good place to start.
Jerry Jarvis, Former Managing Director, Edexcel

Click here to download the paper.