Assessment

By Mary Simpson; Jim O'Brien et al. | Go to book overview

EDITORIAL INTRODUCTION

This series is concerned with policy and practice in education. The area of assessment illustrates clearly the relationships between policy and practice and between policy makers, stakeholders and practitioners. Assessment has been one of the most contested aspects of Scottish education where policy makers have sought to shape the day-to-day practice of teachers and the learning experiences of children. Mary Simpson gives us a critical account of the development of assessment systems in Scotland from the introduction of Standard Grade to current concerns about formative assessment.

The book provides a detailed analysis of the development of policies on assessment, it relates these to debates about purpose of education and to the growing body of knowledge about how children and young people learn. It provides a historical view outlining the development of Standard Grade, Higher Still and particularly the campaigns surrounding the introduction of National Testing. From this the author then turns her attention to two current concerns. First, the question of where Scotland stands in relation to other nations in terms of educational performance and, second, the question of how assessment can be developed from a blunt tool for forcing change in a particular political direction to become a means of informing and enriching the learning experiences of children and young people.

This wider conception of assessment is a substantial element in this book in which the author tackles issues related to international monitoring and to the current emphasis on formative assessment. It is in the former area of assessment that the trend towards globalisation in education is particularly acute and issues related to national comparisons of pupil attainment are often reduced to shock headlines. In this study we go beyond the headlines to consider the important issues underlying the systems for national monitoring. In the account of formative assessment we observe the bringing together of policy, research and practice and see also how ideas of diagnostic and formative assessment have developed in Scotland.

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