Standard setting in national examinations: what are exam standards?

Seminar with Jo-Anne Baird Director of the Department of Education, University of Oxford

Moray House School of Education

Paterson's Land, Room 1.21

12 noon-2pm (please bring lunch)

Video recordings available here.

Over the past twenty years, a research literature has developed in England that has theorised the meaning of national examination standards in a manner that is distinctive from that in the broader literature on educational and psychological testing.  The scientific basis of testing rests upon psychometrics, which have been termed modern test theory.  Authors working in England, such as Baird, Cresswell, Goldstein, Newton and Wiliam have posed various theoretical positions that depart from the traditional psychometric approach, though others (e.g. Coe) have firmly argued for its superiority as a lens through which to view what educational outcome standards mean.  Another set of literature has arisen in the field of educational policy, championed by writers from the University of Edinburgh such as Grek, Ozga, Raffe and Lawn.  They position psychometrics as a technocracy; a critique that can be extended to assessment practice more broadly.

This seminar will give an overview of these different literatures and a current project being conducted with over a dozen examination boards internationally, which is co-led by Lena Gray (AQA), Tina Isaacs (UCL Institute of Education) and Dennis Opposs (Ofqual).  A study published in 2016 (Baird and Gray) contrasted the meaning of national school leaving examinations in England and Scotland and this will be used to illustrate the different ways in which standards are conceptualized, the state of current theory and a way of reconsidering theory in this area will be presented.


Date of Event 
28 Apr 2017
Event Leader 
Jo-Anne Baird