ASCL comment on Ofqual plan for use of technology in exams

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on exam watchdog Ofqual’s three-year plan and the use the technology in assessments.
“We are delighted that Ofqual is going to look at new approaches to exams, including the use of technology, and that it intends to work with the awarding organisations to this end.
“Our current reliance on a pen-and-paper exam system, organised at an industrial scale with Fort Knox-style security arrangements around the transportation and storing of papers, is hopelessly outdated and ripe for reform. The recent experience of the pandemic has shown just how vulnerable it is to unexpected events. If online assessment had been available, it might not have been necessary to cancel all summer exams for two years in a row.
“It will clearly be necessary to carefully test and integrate new online systems to ensure their reliability and validity, and we look forward to working with Ofqual and the awarding organisations on how this may work.
“On the wider aspects of the shape of exams in the future, Ofqual is obviously constrained by government policy, but our view is that the use of technology in assessment is only one part of the picture, and that exams themselves need to change.
“We would like to see a range of assessment methods used, less emphasis on a huge and relentless set of terminal exams, and reforms to English and maths which build confidence and progress rather than consigning massive numbers of students to a sense of failure. The exam system needs to work better for all students and give every young person the dignity of qualifications of which they can be justly proud.”