UUP plan to replace academic selection tests with long-term assessment simply will not work

The recent proposal of Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt and their education expert Danny Kinahan MP to solve the 'selection problem' simply will not work.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 18th April 2016, 8:45 pm
No more selection testw? The UUP wants continuous assessment but no other country uses that method to make high stake decisions
No more selection testw? The UUP wants continuous assessment but no other country uses that method to make high stake decisions

No country in the world uses coursework for “high stakes” decision making, a fact conveniently ignored in the UUP quest for votes.

Of course, it is no accident that no other country in the world has a constructivist curriculum like Northern Ireland’s thanks to the Council for Curriculum Examinations and Assessment. The curricular change, described by a CCEA leader as “a Trojan horse” was never opposed by the UUP

There are a range of very good reasons for this international consensus against coursework. If the reader googles “generalisability theory” they will see just how unacceptable the UUP proposal is. Examine just one of those reasons.

The UUP’s proposal may appeal to their educationalist advisors but those proposals would find scant support from The world’s most highly regarded testing agency, America’s Educational Testing Service.

In one of the most famous educational texts ever written - “The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them” - E.D. Hirsch reports Paul Diederich’s 1961 study. Given its centrality to the UUP’s convenient “solution” to the transfer problem, I quote directly:

“When 300 student [exam] papers were graded by 53 graders (a total of 15,900 readings), more than ONE THIRD of the papers received EVERY possible grade: A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, and D.

It was also reported that 94% of the papers received either seven, eight or nine different grades from 53 readers.”

The UUP seem to pour scorn on generalisability theory and the theoretical and practical requirements of validity and reliability measures in testing constructs.

This begs the question, “How safe would education, never mind transfer testing be if the Ulster Unionists were to be gifted the education portfolio?”

Stephen Elliott, Chair, The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education