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Tests and assessments are valued in society, especially when the cost of getting it right matters, for example, when they are used to certify people we need to trust in order to assure public safety and well-being (e.g., engineers, doctors, pilots, train drivers, electricians, teachers, etc.). Without such formal assessments, we would need to rely solely on the attestation of some individual who may well be subject to the influences of collusion, corruption, and cheating (which is why tests were devised in the first place). Alternatively, we might have to rely on free market processes which would take time to weed out incompetents; we know that deficient practitioners (e.g., peddlers of quackery, pseudo-medicine, or health fraud) may well harm unsuspecting and naïve citizens (e.g., Gerald Shirtcliff ’s engineering work, produced under false engineering credentials, may have contributed to a building collapse in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake with significant loss of life; Howe, 2014). Hence, society needs confidence that learners and professionals can perform satisfactorily the responsibilities we assign them and we rely on validated evidence of those competencies before opportunities are given.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Book Chapter

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