The changing demands of assessment policy: Sustaining confidence in teacher assessment

Year: 2008

Author: Klenowski, Val

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

With the global shift towards standards-driven reform, tied to reporting, assessment issues related to public and teacher accountability take prominence. In an accountability context standards are used as a lever to improve the reliability and consistency of teacher judgement and classroom evidence is used by education systems for reporting and tracking achievement over time. Assessment is inseparable from curriculum and has become a powerful driver for change. It is central to good education and is at the heart of the teaching-learning dynamic. The relationship between the learner, learning and assessment, however, needs to be kept central and teacher assessment at the local, professional level remains fundamental.

This paper will outline the changing demands of assessment policy and associated practices for achieving accountability in the global context of standards-based reform in different education systems. What is apparent in this analysis is the central role of teacher empowerment at the local, cultural level in the case for 'intelligent accountability' (O'Neill, 2002) and more generative and educative forms of assessment, pedagogy and curriculum to enhance quality and to improve equity of educational provision. This paper argues for a central place for teacher assessment in the changing climate of assessment policy. Teacher assessment is defined as:

The process by which teachers gather evidence in a planned and systematic way in order to draw inferences about their students' learning, based on their professional judgement, and to report at a particular time on their students' achievements (Harlen, 2005: 247).

Teacher professionalism, through educative forms of school-based and teacher-led evaluation and assessment, remains vital.