The recent leaking of SAT papers and the growing body of evidence on the stress and anxiety experienced by students who have to sit a battery of tests and exams highlight an area of serious concern. It is all particularly frustrating because it does not have to be like this.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) could wipe out all this pain and change schools forever: it could do away with the need for exams.
This is not to suggest that we should do away with assessment. It is essential that we know how students are progressing in their knowledge, understanding and skills, and how teaching practices and educational systems are or are not successful. However, assessment does not have to mean tests and exams.
Artificial Intelligence is difficult to define because it is constantly shifting and interdisciplinary. However, in our new report Intelligence Unleashed we identify a Read more ›
The White Paper has been received with the usual round of ‘welcomes’ from the higher education ‘establishment’ – rather limp ‘up to a point, Lord Copper’ responses that deceive no one and are probably motivated more by fear of the consequences of open opposition than any sense of conviction. Or perhaps the neo-liberal discourse of ‘universities are knowledge businesses’ and ‘students are customers’ is now so clamorous that it has become almost impossible to think that any other policies are possible.
Certainly it has become difficult to assert some simple truths – that universities are not simply knowledge machines, however great the ‘impact’ of their research; that they are about more than boosting global competitiveness (or lifetime earnings) but are key institutions in the kind of ‘open society’ we urge on lesser breeds in Eastern Europe or the Middle East (but not Saudi Arabia – and certainly not China); and that students are not customers but learners. To say such stuff is to risk being labelled a dinosaur, a leftie or a spokesperson for the ‘producers’ cartel’ / encrusted establishment – or probably all three.
So the only available – short-term – strategy is to attack the detail, and expose the White Paper Read more ›
Last month, the Government withdrew its requirement for schools to use officially endorsed Baseline assessment in Reception classes. This regime, I would contest, was not simply about children and their learning, nor assessment or accountability. Rather, baseline was as an attempt to further regulate early education for edu-business. What baseline assessment did was to datafy and commodify four-year-olds’ knowledge and learning for profit. Although baseline is no longer mandatory, the DfE is still urging schools to buy the commercially produced assessments. Baseline has become a part of the growing educational digital data economy in which new forms of educational data knowledge are generated, commodified and sold for profit. It is claimed that datasets such as baseline have the potential to offer unprecented digital data governance. So, for example, baseline data on four year olds can be ‘scaled up’ and agreggated into big datasets of commercial interest and governance.
Around 12,000 primary schools adopted one of the three edu-businesses who were selected by the DfE to run the baseline assessments at an estimated cost of £3.5-£4.5 million (excluding the costs to schools employing supply cover whilst the Reception Read more ›