Exam questions: a consideration of consequences of reforms to examining and assessment in Great Britain and New Zealand
In contrast to the imminent, system-wide changes to assessment and testing procedures in England and Wales, New Zealand's reforms in the assessment area until 1985 have been confined to relatively minor changes in national exams in the upper secondary school. Indeed as late as 1984 the Minister of Education was determinedly setting his face against changes to a system of national examinations that had had few structural alterations since it was established in the period from 1934 to 1945. Yet within eighteen months of a change of government we have seen the removal of the University Entrance exam from form 6. There remains at that level what was formerly a low-status, wholly school-assessed Sixth Form Certificate. A year later two widely discussed reports have been published, one a curriculum review that is proposing widespread structural changes to the curriculum (Reading 1) in order to address the key issues raised during the review. The other report was to give advice on the award of leaving certificates, including arrangements for the moderation of standards and policy advice for the further development of such awards. The recommendations on these matters included such details as the replacement of subject results reported as percentage marks with achievement-related grades and descriptions, and structural changes leading to criterionreferenced rather than norm-referenced assessments. Course and between-school moderation procedures that have to date been based solely on group reference test and national exam results are recommended for replacement by various forms of consultation that calibrate teacher, student and moderator judgements. Finally, it is suggested that a viciously discriminatory device we call ‘means analysis’ be replaced by criteriarelated assessments that are group moderated by discussion rather than by statistics.