High-stakes examinations to support policy: design, development and implementation

How can we help policy makers choose better exams? This question was the focus of the Assessment Working Group at the 2010 ISDDE Conference in Oxford. The group brought together high-level international expertise in assessment. It tackled issues that are central to policy makers looking for tests that, at reasonable cost, deliver valid, reliable assessments of students’ performance in mathematics and science with results that inform students, teachers, and school systems. This paper describes the analysis and recommendations from the group’s discussions, with references that provide further detail. It has contributed to discussions, in the US and elsewhere, on “how to do better”. We hope it will continue to be useful both to policy makers and to assessment designers.