FORUM
ISSN 0963-8253


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Volume 59 Number 2 2017

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CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]

 

Howard Stevenson. Editorial. Time to Change the Conversation, pages 117-119 FREE ACCESS VIEW FULL TEXT http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.117

 

ASSESSMENT: crisis and resistance
Guest Editor: TERRY WRIGLEY

Terry Wrigley. Editorial. Assessment: crisis and resistance, pages 121-127 FREE ACCESS VIEW FULL TEXT http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.121

More Than a Score. Assessment: the alternative, pages 129-132

John Richmond. Assessment in English 3 to 11, pages 133-140

Terry Wrigley. Some Modest Proposals, pages 141-144

Jakob Wandall. National Tests in Denmark: CAT as a pedagogic tool, pages 145-148

Michael Fielding & Fred Inglis. Accountability, pages 149-152

Pam Jarvis. Homo Sapiens 1.0: human development and policy construction, pages 153-158

Guy Roberts-Holmes. Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia and Democratic Alternatives to Early Childhood Education Assessment, pages 159-167

Sharen Kucey & Jim Parsons. Linking Past and Present: John Dewey and assessment for learning, pages 169-173

Jonathan Glazzard. What Could Replace the Phonics Screening Check during the Early Years of Reading Development?, pages 175-181

John Hodgson. Authenticity, Validity and Reliability in A-level English Literature, pages 183-188

John Hodgson. Assessing Primary Literacy through Grammar Tests, pages 189-190

John Richmond. Grammar and Great Literature, pages 191-193

Ros Wilson. Assessment of Primary Writing in 2016, pages 195-196

Nerida Spina. Governing by Numbers: local effects on students' experiences of writing, pages 197-200

Valerie Coultas. Thinking Out of the Exams Box: assessment through talk?, pages 201-205

Gawain Little, Jo Horn & Steph Gilroy-Lowe. Maths is More than Getting the Right Answer: redressing the balance through observation, pages 207-216

Tony Eaude. Assessing the Humanities in the Primary School Using a Portfolio-based Approach, pages 217-222

Terry Wrigley. Authentic Assessment through Rich Tasks, pages 223-225

†Grant Wiggins. Creative Learning, pages 227-230

Gemma Moss. The Assessment System is Unsustainable: how can we make it better?, pages 231-235

John Coe. The Grass Roots Speak, pages 237-240

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John Quicke. What's Wrong with the EBacc?, pages 241-251

Colin Richards. Revisiting and Recovering an Educational Approach to School Inspection, pages 253-258

David Dixon. School Leadership: shaping a sustainable future, or a slave to neo-liberalism?, pages 259-272

James Percival. The Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Conservative Educational Policy, pages 273-280

Richard Zaiser. The Human Cost of Producing Human Capital, pages 281-290

 

BOOK REVIEWS
VIEW FULL TEXT http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.293
Ability-grouping in Primary Schools: case studies and critical debates (Rachel Marks), reviewed by Hilary Povey, pages 293-297

Children's Rights, Educational Research and the UNCRC: past present and future (Jenna Gillett-Swan & Vicki Coppock, Eds), reviewed by Sushan Acharya, pages 297-302


 

Assessment: the alternative

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.129

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This position statement presents a summative argument against current structures and practices of assessment in England's primary schools, and some key principles for its replacement. The text was agreed by More Than A Score, a broad coalition of professional, curriculum, research and campaigning organisations opposed to the current assessment system and its links to accountability, and published early in 2017.

 

 

Assessment in English 3 to 11

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.133

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This article critiques the current arrangements for the assessment and testing of English in early-years settings and primary schools in England. It is broadly supportive of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile. It is highly critical of the Year 1 phonics check, and of the tests of reading and of grammar, punctuation and spelling at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. It proposes a moderate revision of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, the abolition of the Year 1 phonics check, and a complete overhaul of testing arrangements at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2. The article's alternative proposals for these tests would reunite the currently dismembered activities of reading and writing. The spoken language would be assessed as of equivalent importance to reading and writing. The tests and their related assessment criteria would be published in banks of online resources from which teachers could choose. All assessment and testing would be done internally, by teachers, with external moderation.

 

Some Modest Proposals

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.141

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This text represents two extracts from a submission to the House of Commons Select Committee's investigation into primary school tests. The first part is a critique of the 2016 tests, particularly the Reading and Grammar tests for 11-year-olds and also the highly regulated 'teacher assessment' of Writing. The second part is a set of proposals for rethinking the whole suite of primary school tests. This includes consideration of how teacher assessment might draw, at the teacher's discretion, on a national bank of test items; and suggestions for sustaining curricular breadth and engagement.

 

National Tests in Denmark: CAT as a pedagogic tool

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.145

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This article describes standardised testing in Denmark and the protections guaranteed to avoid 'high stakes'. It explains the use of computer-based 'adaptive tests' which adjust to an appropriate level for each student. It is an abbreviated version of an article from 2011 in the Journal for Applied Testing Technology. The author is currently providing consultancy advice for assessment reform in Wales.

 

Accountability

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.149

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This contribution republishes extracts from two important articles published around 2000 concerning the punitive accountability system suffered by English primary and secondary schools. The first concerns the inspection agency Ofsted, and the second managerialism. Though they do not directly address assessment, they are highly relevant to this collection for three reasons. Firstly, assessment data feeds into both: in other words, they constitute part of the 'high stakes' of the present system. Secondly, the descriptions they provide of the educational and social damage caused by inspection and data-driven management is highly pertinent to the test system. Finally, these aspects of governance along with high-stakes assessment are explicitly located within a broader ideology and policy framework of neoliberalism which distorts educational aims.

 

Homo Sapiens 1.0: human development and policy construction

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.153

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Nearly a century of psychological research and recent advances in neuropsychology suggest that there is a 'learning to learn' stage in early childhood, during which children need to create the foundations of human cognition, which relies upon the ability to logically categorise incoming information. Mid-twentieth-century psychologists would refer to this process as 'schema building', while twenty-first-century cognitive scientists would refer to it as the development of 'embedded mental representation'. Whichever term we use, the implication for the early years teacher is the same: that children in the nursery stage of education, which is internationally recognised as the years between the third and seventh birthday, most effectively learn through self-chosen, play-based activities undertaken in the company of peers and facilitated by adults who engage in the process of 'sustained shared thinking' – that is, sensitively supporting the child to sequentially increase his/her understanding through 'real life' experience during this process. This article explains why the needs of young children have been increasingly poorly addressed in this respect within recent education policy in the United Kingdom, with reference to potential issues arising.

 

Loris Malaguzzi, Reggio Emilia and Democratic Alternatives to Early Childhood Education Assessment

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.159

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This article responds to the dangers arising from baseline assessment in reception classes. It contrasts predictive testing which claims to ascertain each child's ability and potential with the processes of observation, documentation and discussion developed in Reggio Emilia. It explores the two very different understandings of children which they reflect.

 

Linking Past and Present: John Dewey and assessment for learning

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.169

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This collection of extracts is drawn from an article originally published in the Journal of Teaching and Learning (2012). It provides an important reminder to understand Assessment for Learning in depth, by relating some of its key features to aspects of John Dewey's educational and political philosophy of democratic participation.

 

What Could Replace the Phonics Screening Check during the Early Years of Reading Development?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.175

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This article argues that the phonics screening check, introduced in England in 2012, is not fit for purpose. It is a test of children's ability to decode words rather than an assessment of their reading skills. Whilst this assessment may, to some extent, support the needs of children who rely on phonemic decoding as a route to word recognition, it does not support the needs of more advanced readers who have automatic word recognition. In addition, for children who struggle with phonemic decoding, the phonics screening check does not assess the skills which contribute to the development of both phonological and phonemic awareness. These skills include compound word, syllable and onset and rime blending and segmenting as well as phoneme addition, phoneme deletion and phoneme substitution. This article argues that existing models of reading development are inadequate for assessment purposes and that a battery of assessments is needed to support children at different stages of their reading development.

 

Authenticity, Validity and Reliability in A-level English Literature

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.183

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This article discusses the use of assessment by teachers to replace external marking. It shows how professional participation and moderation can provide reliability in summative assessment, even in public examinations for older students. It draws on historical experiences of assessment for A-level English literature.

 

Assessing Primary Literacy through Grammar Tests

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.189

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Originally an editorial for English in Education, this short article summarises key issues in the imposition of a separate test for grammar, punctuation and spelling. It illustrates the poor foundations, lack of clarity and distortion of curriculum which invalidate the test.

 

Grammar and Great Literature

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.191

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This is an extract from 'Politics, Reading and Knowledge about Language', the author's address to the 1991 annual conference of the National Association for the Teaching of English. It describes the moment in 1988 when Kenneth Baker, then Secretary of State for Education and Science, received the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of English Language [the Kingman Report], which he had established. It failed to please him, because it did not recommend a return to old-fashioned grammar teaching based on a Latinate model of English, as he had hoped it would.

 

Assessment of Primary Writing in 2016

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.195

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This article demonstrates the distortions arising from attempts to impose a rigid set of criteria on teacher assessment. The use of surface features of syntax and punctuation to determine grades created a situation where children's writing became artificial and lacking in interest.

 

Governing by Numbers: local effects on students' experiences of writing

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.197

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This article is an extract from a longer research article originally published in the journal English in Education. It describes a parallel situation in Australia where high-stakes assessment led to stereotyped writing, endless test practice and widespread student disengagement.

 

Thinking Out of the Exams Box: assessment through talk?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.201

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This article examines the abandonment of talk-based assessment in favour of written exams, even when writing results in less valid assessment. It points to substantial experience of assessment through talk in English and media studies and points to its potential use in other subjects. It is followed by an example, originally designed by the National Oracy Project for a Key Stage 3 (KS3) media unit, which shows the blend of process and product, and formative and summative assessment.

 

Maths is More than Getting the Right Answer: redressing the balance through observation

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.207

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This article explains how high-stakes standardised tests are distorting primary school mathematics and failing to promote pupils' cognitive development. It argues for observation and journaling for both formative and summative assessment in order to recover an emphasis on reflective mathematical understanding and problem-solving.

 

Assessing the Humanities in the Primary School Using a Portfolio-based Approach

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.217

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This article suggests that a portfolio-based approach to assessing the humanities in the primary school is appropriate and outlines what this might involve. It argues for a broad interpretation of 'the humanities' and for adopting principles associated with formative assessment, where assessment is not equated with testing and a wide range of children's achievements are celebrated.

 

Authentic Assessment through Rich Tasks

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.223

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This short article explains the key principles of 'rich tasks', a version of authentic assessment developed in Queensland, Australia, as part of a major curriculum development called the 'New Basics'. In various documents, the project leaders recognised the danger that inappropriate assessment would undermine the proposed curriculum and pedagogy. Under the rubric 'rich tasks' they developed a range of interdisciplinary challenges for the end of each stage of education which could serve as summative assessment. The article is an amalgamation of explanations, and a selection of examples, derived from various documents from the New Basics project.

 

Creative Learning

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.227

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This article consists of short quotations from the author's chapter 'Creative Learning' written for the Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning. It argues that, when assessing creativity, we should look for fitness to purpose as well as inventiveness, and that creativity can be assessed and recognised in a wide range of activities and curriculum areas. This is followed by extracts from the author's generic rubric for assessing creativity (2012) in order to illustrate the kind of guidelines which teachers might find helpful.

 

The Assessment System is Unsustainable: how can we make it better?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.231

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This article evaluates the current state of play in terms of policy development in response to the testing crisis.

 

The Grass Roots Speak

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.237

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This article reflects, and encourages, the growth of grass-roots revolt to bring about change in an assessment system which systematically undermines real education.

 

What's Wrong with the EBacc?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.241

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As schools gear up for the English Baccalaureate (EBacc), what is the point and purpose of this new performance measure and the curriculum it encompasses? In this article the author takes a critical look at the EBacc, its assumptions about the aims of education, the curriculum model on which it is based and the implications for how schools are to be judged. Despite its many flaws, by providing an entitlement for all children to a liberal education, he suggests that it might be a step in the right direction, and asks whether a progressive case can be made for it. He addresses this question via a discussion of Michael Young's notion of 'powerful knowledge' and draws appropriate conclusions.

 

Revisiting and Recovering an Educational Approach to School Inspection

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.253

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The appointment of a new chief inspector from January 2017 offers the opportunity to re-set the relationship between Ofsted and the teaching profession. Both inspectors and teachers need to readjust their mindsets, if inspection is to be seen as developmental and principled rather than judgemental and arbitrary. Without claiming that it was exemplary or that it was not without stress for the inspected or the inspectors, this article argues that the approach used by Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI) prior to 1992 should be revisited and lessons learnt for the further development of school inspection.

 

Thinking Out of the Exams Box: assessment through talk?

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.259

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In the increasingly fragmented education service in England, with ever-tightening systems of accountability from central government, one might assume that leaders have less scope for pursuing their own agendas. However, with the diminished role of local authorities and the rise of academies and faith and free schools, it can be argued that headteachers have more freedom than ever to act as they see fit, albeit while needing to be cognisant of league tables. Many leaders seem to be suffering from a case of Stockholm syndrome (Stockholm syndrome occurs when a victim of kidnapping forms an emotional attachment with the kidnappers and ends up joining them), in that the reductionist agenda permeates the way they and their schools operate and they are passive and compliant in the face of this. This situation is inextricably bound up in the neo-liberal paradigm, which values individualism above collectivism and 'benevolent' marketisation above notions of well-being and happiness. Should leaders actively challenge these notions in favour of a philosophy more in tune with environmental sustainability?

 

The Historical and Philosophical Foundations of Conservative Educational Policy

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.273

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Contemporary Conservative education policy may seem to be hastily formulated and executed, but, it is arguably founded on deeply held ideological beliefs. By briefly examining the history of the British Conservative party and its complex formation and disparate ideological traditions, including the broader conservative diaspora, four key Conservative educational beliefs - namely: support for traditional practices; anti-intellectualism; economic liberalism and the power of the market; and support for inequalities of outcome - beliefs are discussed. These are then examined against contemporary policy initiatives such as practice-based teacher training, the marketisation of schools and curriculum reform.

 

The Human Cost of Producing Human Capital

http://doi.org/10.15730/forum.2017.59.2.281

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In Austria the process of business-oriented educational reforms started 15 years ago but it is only now, after the implementation of the new school-leaving exams in the 2014-15 school year, that everybody has become aware of the profound changes made in the educational system. Despite the long-lasting debates and arguments, and the visible changes, the origins and objectives of the reforms are still ignored, and the reform movement is seen as a modern necessity rather than a well-planned strategy designed to increase profits. In this article, Richard Zaiser, a languages teacher who works not far from Vienna, explores the situation in his country.

 

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