England & Wales, Global Covid-19 , Education and children's services

The future of pupil assessment post Covid-19 and beyond


The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in much disruption in the school examination systems worldwide. The GCSE and A-level examinations were cancelled in England in 2021 for the second year, to be replaced by teacher-assessed grades. However, wherever you are in the world currently, the pandemic has provided a dramatic interruption of normal assessment activity. PISA’s 2021 tests are rescheduled for 2022. Across the world, school examinations for 18-year-olds or 19-year-olds have been cancelled, postponed or simplified.

For many, this begs the question of whether the public exam systems are sufficiently robust or resilient in the face of the kind of crisis we have faced since 2020. While teacher assessment will be more dominant in determining pupils’ formal outcomes at ages 16 and 18 in 2021, the implications for the future could vary between a call for a permanent and greater involvement of teachers in public exams, or the teaching profession becoming the focus of public dissatisfaction about the way that exam grades have been arrived at this year.

This briefing looks at the issues through a number of recent publications related to the English and other school systems.

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