Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment define what is taught, how it is taught, and how we know that learning has taken place. Together they describe much of what takes place in the classroom, and the relationship between them is crucial. This paper focuses principally on assessment, which has increased in importance over the past ten years as a tool of schools policy. Assessment, and in particular testing, now defines much of what goes on in schools, from decisions around resources to teaching strategies in the classroom.
If we are going to hold schools to account on the basis of assessment data, such as national curriculum test and GCSE results, then what is assessed and how will have profound consequences for what is taught and how. This is of course the very intention of the current system. However, we will argue here that the current assessment system is having unintended and unwelcome consequences for the quality of teaching and learning.
This paper is primarily concerned with assessment in the form of national testing up to the end of Key Stage 3 at age 14. This work has been made possible through the generous support of Cambridge Assessment and Select Education Plc.
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