Aggregation and awarding methods for national curriculum assessments in England and Wales: a comparison of approaches proposed for Key Stages 3 and 4

Most educational assessment involves aggregating a large number of observations to form a smaller number of indicators (for example, by adding up the marks from a number of questions). The term awarding refers to any subsequent process for converting aggregated raw scores onto a scale which facilitates general interpretations. This paper explores some of the theoretical and practical issues involved in aggregation and awarding by considering the relative merits of two methods: the method used at the end of National Curriculum Key Stage 3 in 1993 and a method recently proposed for assessment at the end of Key Stage 4. It is concluded that aggregation and awarding procedures like those used to date at Key Stage 3 are unlikely to produce results which are as fit for the common purposes of assessment as more conventional procedures.

‘The thing can be done’, said the Butcher, ‘I think.
The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
The best there is time to procure.’

Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark


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