What Makes a Good Secondary Assessment? On Achieving the Aims of Assessment

Daniel P. Hyde


Drawing on the wealth of testing literature, and considering recent assessment paradigm shifts, this paper outlines four main purposes of assessment: as a measure of achievement and attainment; as a gate-keeping selection tool; to promote a meritocracy, providing equality of opportunity, and; to keep schools and teachers accountable. Through a critical discussion of traditional and alternative assessments, tensions between equality, accountability, assessment and the curriculum are highlighted in an attempt to find what would make a ‘good’ assessment – a test that achieves all four aims. Ultimately, it is suggested that the only way to achieve this is to reconceptualise assessment and curriculum as two halves of the same whole. Formative and summative assessment shows students’ competency. A curriculum that supports deep-learning, monitored to be gender-neutral, supports gate-keeping and equality. Finally, making schools accountable through qualitative inspections of their teaching and curriculum removes the negative-effects of teaching-to-the-test.

Keywords:assessment, authentic assessment, accountability, curriculum, equality

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ISSN (Paper)2222-1735 ISSN (Online)2222-288X

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