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Can we compete? Do A levels match the world's best?


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Presentation by Dennis Opposs at 'A new look at standards' event

Presentation by Dennis Opposs at 'A new look at standards' event

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  • 1. Can we compete? Do A levels match the world's best? Dennis Opposs Director of Standards
  • 2. International comparisons work
    • Six-year research programme
    • Investigate the demand of assessments taken internationally in comparison to those taken in England
  • 3. Ofqual’s new standards objective
    • The qualifications standards objective is to secure that ̶
    • (a) regulated qualifications give a reliable indication of knowledge, skills and understanding, and
    • (b) regulated qualifications indicate ̶
    • (i) a consistent level of attainment (including over time) between comparable regulated qualifications, and
      • (ii) a consistent level of attainment (but not over time) between regulated qualifications and comparable qualifications (including those awarded outside the United Kingdom) which are not qualifications to which this Part applies.
  • 4. International comparisons work
    • The first of these studies focuses on assessments available to senior secondary learners intending to progress to university in the UK
  • 5. The two types of studies
        • A special test designed to be a benchmark against itself
        • Test written through international collaboration to assess a common understanding of ‘quality’
        • Sample of all students
    • What Ofqual is looking at
        • What students do as part of their normal school assessment
        • Assessments written in the context of each system, reflecting their values, curriculum and purpose
        • Assessments for students looking to higher education
  • 6. Existing studies
    • ‘ On their own, cross-sectional international comparisons such as PISA cannot identify cause-and-effect relationships between certain factors and educational outcomes, especially in relation to the classroom and the processes of teaching and learning that take place there’
    • OECD 2011
  • 7. Senior secondary assessment
    • Chemistry
    • English (national language or main language of tuition)
    • History
    • Mathematics
  • 8.  
  • 9. Other systems
    • International Baccalaureate
    • The ACT, USA
    • Cambridge Pre-U
    • Cambridge International
    • A levels
  • 10. Senior secondary assessments
    • Some assessments have the specific purpose of selecting students for higher education (for example a matriculation examination)
    • Others are assessments of educational achievement that in addition are used to identify students for higher education (of which A levels are one)
  • 11. Methodology
    • The demand of each assessment was judged in relation to its appropriateness in preparing learners for entry to honours level degree study in England
  • 12. Curriculum comparisons England (A levels) Subject A Subject B Subject C Denmark (Gymnasium) Danish English 2nd foreign language History Classical studies Physics Physical education An artistic subject Mathematics Religion Social science Two of biology, chemistry and natural geography Multi-subject coursework Electives Specialised study Hong Kong (HKDSE) Chinese language English language Mathematics Liberal studies Elective
  • 13. Curriculum - Assessment what is taught v what is assessed
  • 14. Emerging findings
    • Independent research and extended essays
    • Internally set assessment
    • Multiple-choice questions
    • Mark schemes
    • Predictability
  • 15. Emerging findings – Mathematics
    • Pure mathematics or applications
    • Levels
    • New technology
    • Mechanics
  • 16. Emerging findings – Chemistry
    • Balance of coverage
    • Challenging topics
    • Mathematical content
  • 17. Emerging findings – English
    • What is English?
    • What is a text?
    • Types of assessments
  • 18. Emerging findings – History
    • What is history?
      • citizenship?
      • study skills and concepts?
      • rote learning facts and figures?
    • Types of assessments
  • 19. Emerging findings – Summary
    • Layers of breadth and depth
    • Assessment variety
    • Producing the best A levels
  • 20. Future studies – 16+,11+
    • Criteria for selection of systems
    • Subjects: mathematics and English; others?