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What is the purpose of public assessment?

How have examinations come to hold such a significant part in our national life?

How have examinations come to hold such a significant part in our national life? Such a question leads us to ask why students have to take so many GCSEs, English language exams, A levels, vocational assessments and so on. This seminar seeks to describe the part that examinations play in modern societies. Are they part of a widespread system of rules and regulations which constrain individuals? Or are they a route to new opportunities which lead to growth and self-fulfillment? Those who are working in the field of assessment might see themselves as trying to balance the tensions which pull in each of these directions. This seminar will be an opportunity to address such issues in the light of current discussions about educational assessment.

This seminar is part of the Assessment Principles series of seminars presented by Andrew Watts, a Principal Consultant for the Cambridge Assessment Network Division. The series focuses on five key topics in assessment: the purposes of assessment; the relationship between assessment and learning; the development of assessments; the validity and the reliability of assessments. Each session addresses one of these topics. Though the topics are the same each year, up-to-date issues are discussed which focus on recent news stories or which represent the latest thinking in that area. The series is for those who want to take a broad view of the field of educational assessment, in company with others working in the field. Participants will be able to share their own experiences and perceptions, and to reflect on those of others. A certificate is awarded for attendance at all five sessions (contact the Network team for details).

Dates for 2012 are:

8 March: What is the purpose of public assessments (Cambridge)
12 April: What is the purpose of public assessments (Coventry)
10 May: How can assessment support learning? (Cambridge)
12 July: Measurement or judgement: is assessing an art or a science (Cambridge)
13 September: How can we ensure the value of the assessments we create? (Cambridge)
11 October: Can the public have confidence in national assessments? (Coventry)
8 November: Can the public have confidence in national assessments? (Cambridge)


Mr Andrew Watts | talks


Date and Time:

8 March 2012 at 10:30 am


1 hour 30 minutes



Hughes Hall
Mortimer Road

Show map

Organised by:

Cambridge Assessment Network
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Free to University of Cambridge staff and students, £30 for others

Available from:

Additional Information:

To book a place please contact the Network Team on 01223 553846 or thenetwork@cambridgeassessment.org.uk.

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