Martin FautleyResearch by Birmingham City University is leading a debate on education policy after being covered by the Independent, Telegraph and BBC.

The study, by Professor Martin Fautley of the University’s School of Education, found that some school teachers feel under pressure to change pupil’s marks in order to make academic progress seem more obvious. The research has been credited for looking at practical, real-world solutions to the problem and highlighting the detrimental effect that targets can have in the classroom.

Martin explained: “Assessments have now become the measure of school effectiveness rather than a measure of how pupils are performing. I think there are a number of aspects policy makers need to consider when it comes to assessing the nation’s young people:

  1. Assessment shouldn’t be regarded as the sole means of measuring the effectiveness of a school or its pupils. Schools can do a range of things to help understand the achievements of their students, evaluating them purely on assessment results is like judging a car based entirely on its mpg.
  2. The purpose of assessments needs to be better understood to help tailor suitable techniques for different contexts. For example, an assessment to help students improve playing the guitar over a series of lessons should be different to one used to measure their skills after an extended period of tuition.
  3. The type of audience being assessed needs to be considered. An assessment which helps an individual learner to improve is not the same as an assessment intended to measure school effectiveness, and should not be used as such.
  4. There needs to be suitable evaluation methods for different subject areas. Assessment in the Arts should be very different to STEM subjects. For example, the assessment methods used to grade a pupils interpretation of a poem or painting should not be the same as a method used for assessing a pupils competence in mental arithmetic.
  5. Teachers need to stop being judged solely by the overall attainment of their pupils. In my experience, some pupils will do very well if you let them work by themselves without constant formal assessment. In other instances, a teacher may have worked very hard with an individual pupil to help raise their grades from an ‘F’ to a ‘D’. I think it is these sorts of achievements which need to be better recognised.”

Professor Martin Fautley is the Director of Birmingham City University’s Centre for Research in Education.

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Martin Fautley

Martin Fautley

Director of the Centre for Research Education at Birmingham City University
Martin Fautley

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