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Durham University

Experience Durham


Experience Durham events are open to all staff, students and members of the local community.

Research Seminar: Examination Standards: Myths, Challenges, Confusions and Conundrums

29th January 2020, 13:00 to 14:00, Education ED134

A seminar from Professor Paul Newton of
Prof Newton discusses the challenges of maintaining standards in public exams, such as GCSEs and A levels .
Everyone is welcome to attend and booking is not required.

The maintenance of standards in public exams, such as GCSEs and A levels,has been a topic of public debate for many decades. Unfortunately, the quality this debate is frequently compromised by half-truths and misunderstandings. This is understandable. The very idea of maintaining exam standards is highly complex. The aim of this seminar will be to identify and to distinguish between some of the most important myths, challenges, confusions, and conundrums. We will consider the use of terms like norm-referencing, criterion-referencing, comparable outcomes, sawtooth effect, grade inflation, and such like. And we will consider the legitimacy of claims concerning the maintenance of exam standards.

Dr Paul Newton is Research Chair at Ofqual, England’s Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation. He has published widely on topics including validity, comparability, purposes, reliability, and the public understanding of assessment. He was lead editor of Techniques for Monitoring the Comparability of Examination Standards (QCA, 2007), and is first author of Validity in Educational and Psychological Assessment (SAGE, 2014, with Stuart Shaw). Prior to joining Ofqual, Paul was Professor of Educational Assessment at the Institute of Education, University of London; and, prior to that, he worked in a variety of assessment agencies, from the Associated Examining Board to Cambridge Assessment. Paul is a Fellow of the Association for Educational Assessment – Europe. He was a member of the Assessment Reform Group until it retired in 2010, and was an Honorary Professor of Education at Durham University from 2013 to 2019.

Hosted by the Assessment, Evidence and Educational Effectiveness Thematic Research & Scholarship Cluster

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