The ongoing debate about student assessment now has an international dimension. Owing in part to the agenda of the current Secretary of State for Education, comparisons are increasingly made between assessment systems in the UK and other countries. The US system often gets a bad press in the UK because it is so dependent upon the judgement of the individual teacher. Having worked in an California high school and as a moderator/examiner in the UK, I think the US system would have much to commend it — if a proper local system of moderation could be developed. Local assessment, which becomes part of the teaching and learning process, is surely better than the spurious objectivity of a national “external” assessment system which (one hopes) could never be made to work in the US. I want to quote a paragraph from the NATE book text message: the Future of A level English (2005), which emphasises the importance of a community of practice:
So how can curriculum, pedagogy and assessment best be integrated? How might an effective community of practice be realised? Clearly, the way forward is to recognise teachers’ expertise and experience in this area, and, by doing so, to acknowledge the usefulness of assessment in promoting teaching and learning as well as in measuring achievement. Recognition of teachers’ roles in assessment also means giving credibility and status to this activity. Logistically, if for no other reason, this is the only way forward, as the present system is unsustainable, even if it helps protect the Post Office from bankruptcy. Validity and reliability could be achieved through the provision of regional networks (perhaps along the lines of the consortium system already run by the AQA) and through the accreditation of appropriate individuals and institutions.