Standardising assessment

5 Top Tips for Planning a great standardisation session with RM Compare

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Running a standardisation session (of any type) is quite a commitment. At its heart, you are relying on a group of people to spend a significant amount of time working together. Co-ordinating this, let alone doing it, requires thorough planning. Without it, you risk not only a poor experience for participants but also not meeting your end goals.

In an RM Compare session, we want ultimately to end up with a rank order of work that we have confidence in. That is to say that we are as confident as we can be that the relative merit of each piece of work has not only been agreed on by the standardisation team but also that the level of agreement is high enough that it can be relied on.

By getting our planning right we can ensure that we have the best chance of getting a stable rank (I.e. one which is stable and can be relied on), that this is done in the most efficient and effective way possible, and that everyone on the team has a positive experience and can’t wait to do it again!

Playing fields need to be level

You are going to be asking judges to look at a range of work between students, classes, year groups or even schools. For the comparison to have any validity we need, as far as possible, to ensure that the work was completed under similar conditions. This also includes the amount of preparation time students and teachers have in advance of actually creating the work. Our advice is to keep this as short as possible

You can’t compare oranges with apples

Asking a bunch of students from different settings (classes or schools for example) to create some work that you and your team can compare can lead to some challenges if the task is not well defined.

We have seen students interpret a poorly set task with such variation that it makes comparison impossible. While you may not want to discourage diverse thinking, you probably also don’t want entries to look so diverse that you end up trying to compare apples and oranges.

Keep it simple stupid

When the judges are deciding the relative merit of 2 scripts the Holistic statement should be their only term of reference. Forget Rubrics – we are simply asking our team to make a judgement why one piece of work has more merit than another when held up against the Holistic statement.

Shorter Holistic Statements are sometimes tricky to produce but are generally easier for users to understand and compare against. We always recommend keeping things as short and as simple as possible.

Move fast and judge things

This can be a tough one for some people new to this way of working. When faced with two pieces of work the inclination of lots of teachers is to read both in their entirety before coming to a judgement. We often hear that teachers feel a deep sense of unfairness if they do not. Our research shows clearly that teachers are able to make better judgements if they trust their instinct and do so quickly. If they are faced with a ‘toughie’ they need to remember that the rest of the team has their back and that the work they are faced with will be seen multiple times by multiple judges – just go with your instinct and do it fast. 

If we all don’t row, the boat don’t go

Standardisation is a team effort. We need everyone on the team to do their bit by completing as much of the work they have been allocated as efficiently as possible in the time allocated. More comparisons on more items by more judges gives us the best chance of getting the high-quality results we are looking for. We know that the very best sessions are ones where everyone contributes equally and fully.

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