Authentic assessment: sustaining confidence in qualifications


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Authentic assessment: sustaining confidence in qualifications. Presentation delivered at the plagiarism conference on 22 June 2010

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  • Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am pleased to join you today at this conference and to be able to bring you up to date with Ofqual’s views of and role in combating plagiarism. Plagiarism attracts the attention of schools, colleges, universities; learners, their parents and carers, and the public in general . When cases of plagiarism are reported or discovered, it can affect confidence in the results that are issued, in the quality of the examination or assessment and in the value of qualifications. All of these issues are of concern to Ofqual. As the regulator, we ‘strive to secure qualifications, examinations and assessments that are valued and trusted by learners, users and the wider public’.
  • There is a very small percentage of examination entries where a problem exists. Over 16 million GCSE and GCE scripts were marked in the summer of 2009, and over 7 million awards made at GCSE and A level. Penalties for reported malpractice were applied to just 0.03% of these examinations. It is important to note however that our focus is not just on GSCEs and A level qualifications. We require awarding organisations to take the same approach to plagiarism in other qualifications including the new diplomas and in vocational qualifications, where there can be additional issues such as authenticating work-based assessments.
  • To bring the threat of plagiarism into context, our recorded incidents of malpractice, which include detection of plagiarism, copying from other candidates and collusion, are low. Ofqual does not collect statistics on plagiarism in vocational qualifications and we have not received any complaints to investigate. Ofqual (2010) Statistical bulletin - Malpractice in GCSE and GCE: June 2009 examination series. Available at
  • We recognise that despite the low figures, plagiarism is a problem that can have a large impact and we will continue to work with awarding organisations and encourage their work with schools and other education providers to reduce incidents of plagiarism as well as to improve their ability to detect attempts to plagiarise. We must also concentrate on raising public confidence, ensuring that they understand the scope of and the issues with plagiarism.
  • Ofqual itself has taken a strong stance towards addressing plagiarism. Our GCSE, GCE, principal learning and project code of practice, lays down agreed principles, processes and practices within and between awarding organisations. It requires awarding organisations to have procedures in place for reporting, investigating and dealing with any form of malpractice and makes clear the responsibilities of awarding organisations and their personnel including examiners, scrutineers and moderators. Further to this we release statistics concerning malpractice to ensure that this issue is openly reported on. We have also produced a range of guides for teachers, parents and carers and for students and we provide additional advice to students through our well-respected exams doctor. Our plagiarism guides promote good practice amongst candidates, highlight the dangers of plagiarism and help teachers to educate their students in how to avoid plagiarising as well as equipping them with information to help them detect and deal with plagiarism.
  • The first strand of this approach is the education, or virtues, approach. It includes the development of codes of practice, which set out a framework for behaviour and explain how institutions will react to incidents of cheating or plagiarism. These codes must be supported by institutional policy statements which can more clearly influence students than detailed codes, and which are especially effective if seen to be well supported by teaching staff. Staff should also be encouraged to cultivate an honest environment, ensuring that their students do not feel under pressure to cheat. Staff should also ensure that they use the codes of practice to hold students to account. This approach also needs to be up-to-date in order to appeal to students. It must not be seen as a rigid institutional and bureaucratic policy. Any code of practice or statement should respond to modern pressures, such as misuse of technology, and especially the internet, where text is now readily available to cut and paste, either through online books, or through essay banks where assignments are available on demand. Codes should also be supported with clear promotion of how to avoid plagiarising – for example by clearly explaining how to acknowledge and reference the work of others.
  • Authentic assessment: sustaining confidence in qualifications

    1. 1. Authentic assessment: sustaining confidence in qualifications Isabel Nisbet, Chief Executive 22 June 2010
    2. 2. Outline <ul><li>About Ofqual </li></ul><ul><li>About authentic assessments </li></ul><ul><li>Malpractice in GCSEs and A levels </li></ul><ul><li>What Ofqual has done </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul>
    3. 3. About Ofqual <ul><li>Established by Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Bill 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Independent of Ministers – reports to Parliament </li></ul><ul><li>Regulates: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>all qualifications except university degrees </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>statutory National Curriculum assessments </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Ofqual’s five statutory objectives <ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in qualifications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in [National Curriculum] assessments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public confidence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Ofqual’s five statutory objectives <ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in qualifications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in [National Curriculum] assessments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public confidence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Standards in qualifications <ul><li>“ The qualifications standards objective is to secure that regulated qualifications – </li></ul><ul><li>(a) give a reliable indication of knowledge, skills and understanding …..” </li></ul>
    7. 7. Ofqual’s five statutory objectives <ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in qualifications </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Standards in [National Curriculum] assessments </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Public confidence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Awareness </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Efficiency </li></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Public confidence <ul><li>“ The public confidence objective is to promote public confidence in regulated qualifications and regulated assessment arrangements” </li></ul>
    9. 9. Why plagiarism matters to Ofqual <ul><li>Effect on standards </li></ul><ul><li>Effect on confidence (even very small numbers) </li></ul><ul><li>Effect on the majority of learners </li></ul>
    10. 10. Vision <ul><li>As the independent regulator, Ofqual strives to secure qualifications, tests and assessments that are valued and trusted by learners, users and the wider public </li></ul>
    11. 11. Vision <ul><li>As the independent regulator, Ofqual strives to secure qualifications, tests and assessments that are valued and trusted by learners, users and the wider public </li></ul>
    12. 12. Vision <ul><li>As the independent regulator, Ofqual strives to secure qualifications, tests and assessments that are valued and trusted by learners, users and the wider public </li></ul>
    13. 13. Vision <ul><li>As the independent regulator, Ofqual strives to secure qualifications, tests and assessments that are valued and trusted by learners, users and the wider public </li></ul>
    14. 14. About authentic assessments <ul><li>Two types of authenticity: </li></ul><ul><li>Authentic content of assessed tasks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessed tasks use the same knowledge, skills and competences as are the focus or purpose of the assessment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compare “proxy” tasks, designed specifically for the test </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Often points to work-based, or portfolios/projects V written exams or multiple choice tests </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Authentic actor/author of assessed tasks </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The person or groups being assessed are the same as those performing the tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The assumption about help or joint working in the test is the same as in the knowledge/skills/competencies being assessed. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Both types of authenticity matter <ul><li>Authentic content ignoring the need for authentic actors can put standards and confidence at risk by uncontrolled portfolios or coursework </li></ul><ul><li>Obsession with the need to certify authentic authors/actors can lead to artificial, unrealistic tests, divorced from the real world in which the skills are to be applied. </li></ul>
    16. 16. Plagiarism in context <ul><li>Official figures very low </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Only available for academic qualifications and national curriculum tests </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penalties applied to 0.03% of reported malpractice in GCSE and A level examinations (down from 0.06%) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Around a quarter of these cases are for ‘copying from other candidates, collusion and plagiarism’ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ofqual uses these statistics intelligently. What is not reported? </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Research findings in HE – suggest upward trend </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Plagiarism – the statistics (GCSE and A level only) summer series total candidates penalised total candidates penalised for ‘copying from other candidates, collusion and plagiarism’ 2009 4415 1084 2008 4156 1150 2007 4258 1301 2006 4757 1527
    18. 18. Ofqual’s focus <ul><li>Improvement – increase awareness and shared values </li></ul><ul><li>Improvement – ability to detect plagiarism </li></ul><ul><li>Create informed public confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Education in values and conduct / change of culture, plus the enforcement of the regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Naming and shaming bad practice </li></ul>
    19. 19. Addressing plagiarism <ul><li>GCSE, GCE, principal learning and project code of practice </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Agreed principles, processes and practices </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Awarding organisations to enforce in schools and colleges </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Statistics </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Malpractice in examinations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ofqual plagiarism guides </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Students (distributed over 50,000 copies) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Parents / carers (distributed 25,000 copies) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Teachers (distributed 13,000 copies) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Exams doctor </li></ul>
    20. 20. Using sources - students How to use and acknowledge sources of information Find it! Information is easy to find online, but look for quality. Check it! Question the information you find. Credit it! Referencing is important.
    21. 21. Authenticity - teachers The issue of authenticity is not confined to HE. The guide helps to provide teachers with a framework for building upon the concepts of authenticity and attribution.
    22. 22. Avoiding Plagiarism – parents and carers Explain to parents: What plagiarism is Why do students plagiarise (deliberately and accidently) The penalties for plagiarism What parents can do to help
    23. 23. <ul><li>Controlled assessment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduced by Ofqual in 2009 to replace “traditional” coursework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students complete coursework in a controlled environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Retains advantages of coursework but ensures that work is students’ own </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps to address issues of plagiarism and teacher or parent intervention in coursework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Level of controlled assessment varies according between GCSEs </li></ul></ul>Controlled assessment and plagiarism
    24. 24. Types of control Task marking Task doing Task setting Low Medium High Control
    25. 25. Control V realism <ul><li>The right mix to achieve both kinds of authenticity </li></ul>
    26. 26. Three ‘Es’ for reducing dishonest practice EDUCATION <ul><li>Education, or virtues, approach </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Develop students who understand what cheating is and reject it </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>First line of defence against dishonest practice </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Codes of practice </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional policy statements </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open commitment </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cultivate honest environment </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promote correct approaches to acknowledging work of others </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Responsive </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reflect all pressures and current situation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Some principles <ul><li>Take both kinds of authenticity seriously </li></ul><ul><li>Education first </li></ul><ul><li>Robust detection second </li></ul><ul><li>Regulated assessments should support the best teaching and learning </li></ul><ul><li>Regulated assessments should command respect and confidence </li></ul>
    28. 28. Conclusions <ul><li>Independent regulator – about standards and confidence </li></ul><ul><li>Two kinds of authenticity – both are important </li></ul><ul><li>Ofqual has produced guides and advice </li></ul><ul><li>Statistics are important – but also background research </li></ul><ul><li>We need systems that support assessment of the best =teaching and learning </li></ul>
    29. 29. <ul><li>Thank you </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>