A new study has revealed that there is growing support for some exams to be replaced with teacher assessment instead. The research suggests that teacher assessments be used in favour of SATS and GCSEs as both cost a cost-saving and student welfare measure.

Researchers writing in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry say that teacher assessments accurately tied to performance students went on to achieve in exams for maths, English and science, suggesting that introducing more teacher assessments and requiring fewer exams could be a viable path forward for many. The research focused on the teacher assessments submitted for pupils at key stage one, two and three and SATS then compared those findings with the grades the same students achieved at GCSE and A-Level to determine the level of accuracy.

The report authors cited many benefits of switching to this model, remarking “The financial, pedagogical and emotional costs of high-stakes testing are substantial, especially compared to its modest benefits. For these reasons, we view our results as support for the standardisation and wider use of teacher assessments and the reduction of testing during compulsory education.

“We should trust teachers to implement the curriculum and to monitor students’ progress, abilities and inclinations. This would arguably benefit the wellbeing of students as well as teachers, and help to bring joy back to the classroom.”

The fact that the trial was able to demonstrate a strong correlation between a teacher assessment and the eventual exam result, means there is a real case for changing how student ability is measured.

The findings raise the question of whether or not this method would be better and less stressful for students, especially primary school pupils, as a means of tracking and recording progress. The co-lead research on the study points out that reducing exams but monitoring performance with teacher-led assessment could actually benefit the learning and education journey as a whole by allowing a shift to learning rather than learning how to pass an exam.

Margherita Malanchini said, “High-stakes exams may shift the educational experience away from learning towards exam performance. For these reasons, we suggest that teacher assessments could be relied on for monitoring progress, instead of exam scores, in particular during earlier school years.”

As a parent, would you favour reducing the number of exams pupils face in order to focus more on learning or should exams be used in place of teacher assessment? Share your thoughts with us on social media.