Over-emphasis on exams results risks ‘distorting’ learning, warns exam board

The TES is reporting that England’s biggest schools exam board is warning that school accountability places too much emphasis on exam grades and risks “distorting” learning…

A report published by AQA today, says that too much emphasis on exam results when assessing schools’ performance has led in the worst cases to “unintended and undesirable consequences”, such as “teaching to the test, narrowing the curriculum and focusing on those students whose performance has the greatest impact on the headline accountability measures”…

A chapter in the report, written by two of AQA’s senior staff notes that test results are the “central piece of information upon which accountability measures are based”. 

It warns that the emphasis on exams could “place risk on the validity of the accountability system” and “might even undermine trust in schools and teachers”.

The chapter, by Alison Wood, AQA’s head of curriculum and assessment practice and Dr Anton Beguin, director of research and innovation at AQA’s Centre for Education Research and Practice, calls for an “adapted approach” in which schools used test results for self-evaluation and improvement…

The authors suggest as an example that a school could be told that its maths students performed less well at manipulating algebraic expressions than those at other schools…

More at: Over-emphasis on exams results risks ‘distorting’ learning, warns exam board


See the report in full from AQA at The Future of Assessment: 2025 and Beyond


This is a really interesting report from AQA covering a whole series of big issues related to assessment and how it might evolve over the next decade – well worth a read (or at least a good skim which is all I have managed so far 8-O!).

Your reactions to the idea of a better balance between exams and teacher assessment when it comes overall results?

Any other aspects from the report you would pick out as noteworthy?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. This confirms the NUT-commissioned research published last weekend.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2015/07/research-confirms-oecd-warning-4-years-ago-education-in-england-suffers-when-driven-by-stringent-accountability/
    Unlikely the Gov’t will listen though.

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