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Bringing together research, insight and ideas on assessment, qualifications and curriculum

Assessment

GCSE Maths and Numeracy: They don’t equal the same

Rishi Sunak's announcement that young people will be expected to study some form of maths until 18 sparked a huge debate. Adam Steedman Thake wonders what we are really speaking about when we get into the debate about mathsRead Moreicon / report

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Education

TV subtitles as an aid to literacy: What does the research say?

Jack Black is probably best known in educational circles for playing a renegade substitute teacher in School of Rock. But the Hollywood star has made a more conventional foray into education by backing the use of TV subtitles to improve child literacy. Stephen Fry and the World Literacy Foundation also want parents to use their TV remotes to get children reading. So, could this simple click of a button be a solution to boost pupils’ reading skills? AQA’s resident expert on language teaching, Dr Katy Finch, casts her eye over the research to see whether it stacks up.

Read Moreicon / report
Data Analysis

What is left behind now education’s Data Wave has receded?

Is data the solution to all education’s issues? About a decade ago the prevailing wisdom said it was. Advocates of this Data Wave argued that harvesting internal statistics would help schools solve issues such as teacher accountability and attainment gaps. As with all waves, after crashing onto the beach they recede, leaving space for another to roll in. In this blog, teacher, author and data analyst Richard Selfridge looks at the legacy of the Data Wave to see what schools can take from it.

International Approaches

Finland & PISA – A fall from grace but still a high performer?

Finland was once recognised as one of the most successful educational systems in the world. At the turn of the millennium, it topped the PISA rankings in reading, maths and science. But by 2012, decline set in. The last set of results showed performances in maths, reading and science were at an all-time low. In this blog Dr Jonathan Doherty of Leeds Trinity University outlines some reasons that may account for the slide.

Briefing

PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS: What actually are they and what do they tell us?

According to the latest PISA results, England’s science scores are still on a downward trajectory that started a decade ago. Yet TIMSS, another respected study, has science performances rising. Which of them is right? Is one more valid than the other? In this blog AQi examines three International Large-Scale Assessments and finds that, although they may look the same from a distance, get up close and you’ll find they are very different beasts.

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Adaptive Assessment

Adaptive Assessment: A missing ingredient in the resit recipe?

The number of students resitting their maths GCSE is growing, but the proportion getting a grade 4 or higher is falling. This situation is not only dispiriting for the young people striving to get the qualifications they need, but also for the teachers working hard to help them. How can outcomes for this cohort be improved? Bart Crisp, associate director at the Centre for the Use of Research and Evidence in Education, thinks adaptive assessment may be part of the solution.

SEND

Student success: Every milestone matters

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Assessment

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Assessment

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Assessment

2023: A year in review

As we wrap up a year full of exciting developments in education, it is the perfect time to take stock of what has gone on. In this blog, editor of AQi, Anil Dawar, reflects on some of his highlights for 2023.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

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International Approaches

We can gain new ideas from the way other countries are developing their approaches education and assessment. We should be open to new concepts from outside and within.

International Approaches

Finland & PISA – A fall from grace but still a high performer?

Finland was once recognised as one of the most successful educational systems in the world. At the turn of the millennium, it topped the PISA rankings in reading, maths and science. But by 2012, decline set in. The last set of results showed performances in maths, reading and science were at an all-time low. In this blog Dr Jonathan Doherty of Leeds Trinity University outlines some reasons that may account for the slide.

Briefing

PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS: What actually are they and what do they tell us?

According to the latest PISA results, England’s science scores are still on a downward trajectory that started a decade ago. Yet TIMSS, another respected study, has science performances rising. Which of them is right? Is one more valid than the other? In this blog AQi examines three International Large-Scale Assessments and finds that, although they may look the same from a distance, get up close and you’ll find they are very different beasts.

Briefing

Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models

What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.

Briefing

Singapore: where is the poster child of global education heading now?

We look beyond the international league tables

Briefing

Finland: Educating the whole child

Making equality of opportunity the defining objective of a nation's educational strategy

SEND

Education

TV subtitles as an aid to literacy: What does the research say?

Jack Black is probably best known in educational circles for playing a renegade substitute teacher in School of Rock. But the Hollywood star has made a more conventional foray into education by backing the use of TV subtitles to improve child literacy. Stephen Fry and the World Literacy Foundation also want parents to use their TV remotes to get children reading. So, could this simple click of a button be a solution to boost pupils’ reading skills? AQA’s resident expert on language teaching, Dr Katy Finch, casts her eye over the research to see whether it stacks up.

SEND

Student success: Every milestone matters

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Assessment

How and why do we assess students? What are the best approaches?

Briefing

PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS: What actually are they and what do they tell us?

According to the latest PISA results, England’s science scores are still on a downward trajectory that started a decade ago. Yet TIMSS, another respected study, has science performances rising. Which of them is right? Is one more valid than the other? In this blog AQi examines three International Large-Scale Assessments and finds that, although they may look the same from a distance, get up close and you’ll find they are very different beasts.

Assessment

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Assessment

Progress 8 – Schools’ flexible friend?

Eight years after Progress 8 came into existence it is facing calls to be updated. Some say reforming the schools accountability measure can halt the decline in take up of the arts, while others want it to boost numbers taking vocational and technical subjects. Are its shoulders broad enough to take on such a load? In the first of two blogs on Progress 8, AQi looks at how it came into being, what problems it was designed to solve and whether it is flexible enough to be reformed.

Assessment

2023: A year in review

As we wrap up a year full of exciting developments in education, it is the perfect time to take stock of what has gone on. In this blog, editor of AQi, Anil Dawar, reflects on some of his highlights for 2023.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

Assessment

Digital exams: A chance to make assessment more accessible for all

A recent symposium on inclusive educational assessment at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, attracted experts from across the country. AQA lead researcher Dr Katy Finch was in the audience listening to leading academics from the fields of social exclusion, autism, dyslexia and neurodiversity. In this blog, Dr Finch draws on ideas discussed that day to deliberate on the opportunities digitising assessment offers those facing barriers in mainstream education and asks: Can we use Digital Exams as a chance to make assessment more inclusive for everyone?

Briefing

Bacc again: A policy briefing on baccalaureate curriculum models

What could a baccalaureate look like in England? AQi explores some of the options.

Report

Computer science and on-screen assessment: Lessons for policymakers

Evaluating the barriers and benefits to on-screen assessment among AQA A-level Computer Science teachers.

Briefing

On-screen Assessment in England’s Exam System

Exploring what on-screen assessment could mean for GCSE and A-Level students in England.

Report

Stepping Stone: the future of the EBacc and student progression

Over a decade since its inception, AQi explores whether the EBacc curriculum is the right stepping stone to post-16 study and training for pupils in England.

Briefing

Comparable Outcomes: Setting the standard?

What is the comparable outcomes framework, how does it underpin grade standards and are there alternatives?

Briefing

Functional Skills Qualifications: The first decade

Ten years after they were launched, this briefing looks at the future of Functional Skills Qualifications and the levelling-up agenda

Report

What Next for GCSEs?

The past, present and future of GCSEs

The Role of the Teacher

Teachers are central to educational improvement. How do we continuously improve the skills of our teaching cadre?

Education

TV subtitles as an aid to literacy: What does the research say?

Jack Black is probably best known in educational circles for playing a renegade substitute teacher in School of Rock. But the Hollywood star has made a more conventional foray into education by backing the use of TV subtitles to improve child literacy. Stephen Fry and the World Literacy Foundation also want parents to use their TV remotes to get children reading. So, could this simple click of a button be a solution to boost pupils’ reading skills? AQA’s resident expert on language teaching, Dr Katy Finch, casts her eye over the research to see whether it stacks up.

SEND

Student success: Every milestone matters

Baroness Morgan is calling for students to be given ‘self-belief’ lessons as a way of developing their characters and preparing them for the future. She is not the first to notice that a student’s sense of their own ability and their level of success are part of a virtuous circle. But how can teachers get the snowball rolling for students with SEND or in alternative provision? In this blog, former headteacher, John Tomsett, pulls out a swimming certificate he earned more than half a century ago to use as an inspiration for others.

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

Education Policy

Data Analysis

What is left behind now education’s Data Wave has receded?

Is data the solution to all education’s issues? About a decade ago the prevailing wisdom said it was. Advocates of this Data Wave argued that harvesting internal statistics would help schools solve issues such as teacher accountability and attainment gaps. As with all waves, after crashing onto the beach they recede, leaving space for another to roll in. In this blog, teacher, author and data analyst Richard Selfridge looks at the legacy of the Data Wave to see what schools can take from it.

Briefing

PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS: What actually are they and what do they tell us?

According to the latest PISA results, England’s science scores are still on a downward trajectory that started a decade ago. Yet TIMSS, another respected study, has science performances rising. Which of them is right? Is one more valid than the other? In this blog AQi examines three International Large-Scale Assessments and finds that, although they may look the same from a distance, get up close and you’ll find they are very different beasts.

Assessment

Progress 8 – How much can it flex?

Progress 8 has come in for criticism in recent months for the way it combines with the Ebacc to skew schools’ focus towards academic subjects at the expense of creative and technical options. Both Labour and a Lords committee have called for reform to boost uptake of declining subjects such as D&T, dance and drama. In the second of two blogs looking at Progress 8, AQi examines whether the accountability measure could be realigned to address these concerns and if so, how could that be done?

Briefing

Levers of change: Ways that policymakers can shape the education system

With a general election looming there is much debate in the world of education about the next government’s decisions on what our children learn. But deciding this is only part of the issue for any new government. Just as important is understanding how they can actually implement those decisions. Knowing the advantages and drawbacks of all the different levers at government’s disposal is vital. In this blog, AQA’s head of external affairs Reza Schwitzer discusses what these levers are and their pros and cons.

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