To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the oral Answer of 7 September 2020 by the Minister for School Standards, Official Report, column 350, what comparative assessment he has made of the effectiveness of (a) continuous assessment, (b) coursework and (c) exams in assessing student's performance.
The Department reformed GCSEs and A levels from 2011 to be in line with the highest performing education systems. We consulted widely with schools, colleges, universities and employers, both on the principles for reform and the detail of the content of individual subjects, to help them prepare for their introduction. The move to a linear exams system encourages a deeper understanding of the material and facilitates greater preparation for further study, rather than a focus on preparing for module resits.
The independent qualifications regulator, Ofqual, advised that non-exam assessment (NEA) should only be used when it is the only valid way to assess essential elements of the subject. For example, NEA is still required in modern foreign languages (the speaking assessment) and in art and design.
Research suggests that there is evidence that students’ characteristics can influence teacher judgements. We therefore continue to believe that exams are the best and fairest way of judging students’ performance. Following the difficulties experienced with awarding grades without exams this summer, we are determined that exams should go ahead next year.
The Department will continue to work with school and college stakeholders, Ofqual and the exam boards, to ensure that exams in 2021 are fair and proceed smoothly.