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Thoughts on the inaugural meeting of Ofqual’s Research Advisory Group

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: A levels and GCSEs

Research is an important tool for Ofqual. In assessment the questions we face rarely have obvious answers and our responses must be evidence based.

  • Have standards changed over time?
  • Are some A levels easier than others?
  • Do changes in the numbers of native speakers impact on an exam board’s ability to maintain standards in language qualifications?
  • What are the features of mark schemes associated with the best quality of marking?
  • These are just some of the questions that our research team is grappling with.

The findings of our research can have far reaching implications for our policies and so for the qualifications that are vitally important to students, teachers and employers. No individual research study is ever perfect. There are always caveats to be borne in mind. Nonetheless, the quality of our research must be the best that it can be and any conclusions drawn must weigh carefully the strengths and weaknesses of its design.

To help us in this endeavour we have brought together a small group of well-regarded academics working in the field of educational assessment. These experts will scrutinise and provide feedback on our research programme and papers, helping us to think through our findings. Their expertise will also help us in the identification and development of future research studies.

The Research Advisory Group met for the first time on the 3 October 2016 and considered our recently-published research on validity and the sawtooth effect. It was a fruitful discussion, with lots of potential new things to consider. I’m already looking forward to our next meeting early in the new year.

Research Advisory Group Members:

  • Dr Mike Cresswell, Ofqual Board Member (Chair)
  • Dr Ayesha Ahmed, Research Associate, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Therese Hopfenbeck, Director of the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment, Oxford University
  • Dr Gad Lim, Principal Research Manager, Cambridge English Language Assessment, University of Cambridge
  • Dr John Jerrim Reader in Educational and Social Sciences, Institute of Education, University College London

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  1. Comment by Roger Murphy posted on

    Sounds like a really good initiative. Good luck with your important work!

  2. Comment by Duncan Willliams posted on

    Not a single Examiner - senior or otherwise - amongst the membership of this group.

    Anecdotal evidence is still evidence, and quite as likely to be reliable as the statistical "evidence" which itself depends on other "evidence" (especially CAT scores) from earlier in candidates' school careers.