On your marks for exam for examiners

18th July 2008 at 01:00
Cambridge assessment, the agency which incorporates the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA exam board, is launching a course on organising, writing and marking an exam

Cambridge assessment, the agency which incorporates the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA exam board, is launching a course on organising, writing and marking an exam.

The 36-week course, which will be accredited by the Cambridge University Institute of Continuing Education, includes a module on the theory and principles of assessment. The process of examining is also covered, looking at how to make judgements based on knowledge, skills and performance.

The course's three modules will be delivered via a combination of online study and face-to-face tutorials, including three Saturday sessions in Cambridge.

Jill Grimshaw, course manager, hopes the new qualification will appeal to all those connected with qualifications: teachers, markers and officials from examining bodies.

"You can't just go out and write a test," she said. "You have to think about who it's for; whether it's a qualification or just a means of monitoring progress.

"Because assessment is so high-profile nowadays, we thought it was important to offer a programme of professional development, helping people to understand it."

Chris Davis, of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, is sceptical about the benefits.

"We've gone from an education system envied by the world to one which is drowning in the depths of data dissection," he said. "The house of cards is reaching the limits of its credibility. Are there enough willing and able markers to mark the markers?"

But Ms Grimshaw denies that an exam in examining is an exercise in navel- gazing. "Any kind of profession should have professional support for the people in it," she said.

"The course is much more important than the exam. It's not about the qualification; it's about extending knowledge and understanding. The exam and the curriculum should complement each other."

Ms Grimshaw was unwilling to comment on whether the managers of marking contractors ETS, responsible for delays affecting millions of key stage 2 and 3 children this month, would benefit from taking the course.

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