Trash talking: German oral examinations need work

20th September 2013 at 01:00

The drop in popularity of foreign languages at A level is a concern and shows a lack of confidence in the current assessment system ("Languages in peril from grades 'farce'", 6 September). Coupled with exam regulator Ofqual's decision to drop the assessment of oral language skills for GCSE English owing to reliability concerns, it is clear that a more transparent system is needed.

Rather than burying its head in the sand when it comes to solving the problem of poor reliability in speaking and listening assessment, Ofqual should look at different methodologies that can deliver more rigorous and dependable assessments.

So far, proven assessment technology, which works by tapping into the professional judgement of teachers through an adaptive paired judgement approach, has been ignored. This method has been shown to eliminate the issue of subjective bias and has already been used successfully in alternative language and soft-skill assessment contexts in other countries.

Matt Wingfield, Managing director, TAG Assessment and chairman, e-Assessment Association.

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