Definitions and Difficulties
In what follows authors will concentrate on the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE), but the fallout will also illuminate issues applicable to other areas of assessment. Authors begin with three common terms used in the study of assessment. In practice, not only is it difficult to repeat an examination, particularly a GCSE examination, but also it is impossible to get the same conditions. There are several different ways of trying to overcome these difficulties. Teachers also face assessment overload but probably the major difficulty for them is that most are facing something new and must change old ways of working. In the GCSE, for example, what authors are trying to assess is set out in the assessment objectives for each subject which are part of the national criteria. In a criterion-referenced examination deciding upon the criteria for the award of a particular grade is not a science but an art, and a very difficult art at that.