Technology could mean the end for GCSEs and A levels, predicts exams chief

Tes reports that continuous computer-based assessment could ‘displace’ final exams, assessment boss predicts – but people would have to ‘believe the machine’

Simon Lebus, the chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, said that technology already existed that allowed pupils to be tested on an ongoing basis through their computers while they were studying a course.

Students could eventually end up receiving their qualifications through such programmes, removing the need for traditional public exams taken at the end of a period of study altogether, he said.

In an exclusive interview with Tes, Mr Lebus was asked whether the future of exams lay with computer-based assessment.

“Funnily enough, when I joined Cambridge Assessment 15 years ago, I was told that this was the way everything was going to go but nobody could tell me when,” he replied. “That’s still the situation. I think it will actually go that way.”

“The interesting thing is that the technology exists now – the data-processing power and so on, conceptually at least – to allow learning material to be delivered on an ongoing basis in classrooms through technology.”

The same technology, he said, could have “interactive questions and formative assessment” embedded, which would make it possible to “monitor people’s achievement of certain competences and then certificate against it”.

Money would be another potential barrier to doing away with exams, he suggested.

“For computer-based testing to work, you’ve got to have quite a sophisticated network, good bandwidth and all the rest of it,” he said.

Read more Technology could mean the end for GCSEs and A levels, predicts exams chief

Would ongoing testing like this increase or reduce the students workload and stress levels? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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