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Developing a model for investigating the impact of assessment within educational contexts by a public examination provider

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Impact is relatively new in the field of assessment and has only fairly recently appeared in the literature as an extension of washback. Broadly speaking, impact is the superordinate concept covering the effects and consequences of tests and examinations throughout society, whereas washback is more limited and refers to the influence of tests and examinations in teaching and learning contexts.

Based on the premise that there is no comprehensive model of test or examination impact and how it might be investigated, this presentation considers the question ‘What are the essential components of an action-oriented model of impact that would enable the providers of high-stakes examinations to investigate the impact of their examinations within the educational contexts in which they are used?’

A starting point for the discussion will be the role that examinations boards, such as those in Cambridge Assessment, play within educational systems. The speaker will also draw on research conducted by Cambridge ESOL to provide some possible answers, and will illustrate his talk with examples of projects which have been carried out since the mid-1990s. A possible model of test impact will be presented with suggestions as to how it can help examination providers find out and understand the impact their examinations have on education and on society more broadly.

This talk is part of the Perspectives from Cambridge Assessment series.

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