Empowering assessment through familiarity with standards


Teaching can be a surprisingly solitary experience. For most of the time a teacher is alone with their students. When it comes to assessing work, it can be hard to standardise against the work of the class next door, let alone one on the other side of the country.

Centre based moderation helps, with teachers reviewing work together in person to get a shared and agreed understanding of relative standards. Scaling this approach however has significant logistical challenges.

New technological advances, for example through online Comparative Judgement, have helped. However even these still pose significant demands on an already over-worked profession.

Learning by evaluating

What we really need is for all assessors to have a clear understanding of what good looks like. We believe there are two key elements to this.

  1. Provide them with access to work from a representative sample, not just their own classroom.
  2. Familiarisation with the work from the representative sample.

Our research partners have shown how a comparative approach called Learning by Evaluating (LbE) can dramatically improve the familiarisation process, making it faster and more impactful. Professor Scott R Bartolomew talks about his research below. In this case the LbE intervention was used with university students, however the underlying approach is one that could of course be used in any context.

Learning by Evaluating - OnDemand

RM Compare on Demand will allow assessors to improve their familiarity with local, regional, national or even international standards in an intuitive and engaging way. They can use the system to actively assess work, or simply use it as a training tool. Either way, we are confident that we can significantly reduce the variability in standards between assessors and across schools.

By encouraging familiarity with standards, we can have much greater confidence in assessment approaches other than traditional summative exams. This will be key if we want to take a fresh look at matters of curriculum and pedagogy.