Exams watchdog Ofqual has pledged to support the use of technology in assessments and investigate better ways to spot bias in tests as part of a new three-year vision.
Chief executive Dr Jo Saxton said she wants to make it “easier” for students and apprentices to see a “clearer choice of options” during her tenure in the plan, published today.
It comes as students prepare to start their GCSE, A-level and other vocational and technical qualification summer exams for the first time since the pandemic begun, in what Saxton described as the “first step in a return to normality”.
Here’s what you need to know from the 2022 to 2025 corporate plan:
- Ofqual has pledged to “secure trust and confidence” in exams this year “and beyond”, and “be ready to implement contingency arrangements if needed due to the impact of the pandemic”.
- The watchdog will support exam boards to use “innovative practice and technology”, as well as “removing regulatory barriers where innovation promotes valid and efficient assessment”.
- It will also look into the use of adaptive testing – a computerised test that adapts to the students’ ability – and whether it could be a possible replacement for tiering in certain GCSEs.
- Ofqual will evaluate the “risks and benefits” of remote invigilation, where a student can sit a test at home or the workplace.
- It will also look at the “feasibility” of using more objective test questions – where there is usually only one right answer – to “improve reliability and resilience” in exams.
- It will evaluate the use of extra-time in exams for disabled students.
- Ofqual will research different ways of identifying potential bias in written tests.
- It will look how to reduce the impact of the exams system on the environment.
- The watchdog will also monitor the “financial health” of awarding bodies in light of the pandemic’s effect on the qualifications market.
- Ofqual’s ‘register of regulated qualifications‘ will be “significantly enhanced” and made interactive. This platform can be used to compare qualifications, but Ofqual said its changes will “improve clarity” of the market.