Ofqual’s 3-year plan for exams: what you need to know

Exams watchdog pledges to support the use of technology in assessments

Exams watchdog pledges to support the use of technology in assessments


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:

  1. 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”.
  2. 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”.
  3. 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.
  4. Ofqual will evaluate the “risks and benefits” of remote invigilation, where a student can sit a test at home or the workplace.
  5. 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.
  6. It will evaluate the use of extra-time in exams for disabled students.
  7. Ofqual will research different ways of identifying potential bias in written tests.
  8. It will look how to reduce the impact of the exams system on the environment.
  9. The watchdog will also monitor the “financial health” of awarding bodies in light of the pandemic’s effect on the qualifications market.
  10. 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.

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