How policy formation and implementation interacts with risks to high stakes qualifications

The challenges associated with the formation and implementation of national qualifications policy are well documented (e.g. Baird & Lee-Kelley, 2009; Oates, 2008; Richardson, 2007). This paper elaborates on the literature by drawing on interviews with twenty-three key stakeholders from across the qualifications system. The analysis suggests that the stakeholders’ major concerns centre on ensuring that new or reformed qualifications are developed to a sufficiently high quality in the context of pressurised timescales and a challenging policy environment. Issues associated with policy development and implementation have the potential to permeate the qualifications system and introduce risks to accurate administration and assessment. These risks are discussed with reference to the existing research literature and in the context of the current reforms.

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