Media coverage of examination results, public perceptions, and the role of the education profession

Over the past thirty years or so there has been a proliferation in the news coverage that examination issues receive. This coverage has specifically focussed upon examination results as a means of assessing examination standards. Each August the debate regarding whether or not higher pass rates indicate falling or rising educational standards is played out in the print and broadcast news media. This paper uses a sociological framework to examine the content of examination news items, public perceptions of examination standards, and the role of educators in the news coverage examination issues receive. It is argued that an understanding of these issues is key to improving the annual news coverage of examination results. Equipped with such information those responsible for educational assessment could develop effective strategies for interacting with the media. Possible avenues for future research are discussed.

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