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Ofqual - review of controlled assessment

I read the following on the Ofqual website:

We know from the research we've already commissioned that, although controlled assessment has some benefits over coursework, it presents problems for schools in managing the practical arrangements across subjects and there are concerns about its impact on teaching and learning.
Our research included the views of over 800 teachers. One of the findings was that the advice and guidance for teachers was inconsistent and confusing. We asked the GCSE awarding organisations to review their guidance and a revised version of the joint JCQ instructions for conducting controlled assessment will be issued for September.

We will now review the case for controlled assessment on a subject by subject basis. There are currently 35 different sets of controlled assessment regulations. We’ll be looking at whether there is a good case for all of those subjects to have controlled assessment when GCSEs are next revised for teaching in September 2015, following the review of the National Curriculum in England. It is important that assessment in each subject is valid and supports good teaching and learning.
We will report the outcome of this review in the autumn and we will be seeking the views of teachers and other stakeholders in that work.

We will also look carefully at what lessons we can learn from the current model. For example where subjects have controlled assessment now, it’s worth 25% or 60% of the overall assessment. There will need to be a sound rationale for how much of the assessment is done by controlled assessment, with clear benefits to the quality of the assessment, as well as to teaching and learning. And we’ll also be seeking the views of teachers and other stakeholders on this aspect of the work as well.
Our research on controlled assessment can be found at

I hope they take the opportunity to make some changes to the situation with modern languages. I have previously blogged about the unsatisfactory nature of CAs. For example, there is no evidence for the unrecorded oral mark so that teachers could, if they wished, make this up. Much has also been said about how CAs, both oral and written, become a test of memory and line-learning ability. Then there is the issue of general reliability - noone can guarantee what input goes into a controlled assessment - Google translate? A parent linguist? We have also heard from many teachers how CAs distort the conduct of lessons at the expense of effective MFL methodology. Not to mention the inconsistencies in the carrying out of CAs and formal examinations.

These factors indicate to me that we should abandon controlled assessment for MFL and find creative ways of producing a set of terminal tests accessible to a wide range of aptitude. This is entirely feasible. We also have the opportunity to alter the mark weightings for each skill, giving greater importance to listening and less to writing. The former 4 x 25% was reasonable, but I would argue for the following: L = 30%, Sp = 30%, R = 20%, Wr = 20%. We also have the opportunity to reinstate mixed skill tests.

Ofqual and the boards should look around for the best examples of assessment both here and abroad.


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