The centrality of teachers' judgement practice in assessment: A study of standards in moderation

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There is a strong quest in several countries including Australia for greater national consistency in education and intensifying interest in standards for reporting. Given this, it is important to make explicit the intended and unintended consequences of assessment reform strategies and the pressures to pervert and conform. In a policy context that values standardisation, the great danger is that the technical, rationalist approaches that generalise and make superficial assessment practices, will emerge. In this article, the authors contend that the centrality and complexity of teacher judgement practice in such a policy context need to be understood. To this end, we discuss and analyse recorded talk in teacher moderation meetings showing the processes that teachers use as they work with stated standards to award grades (A to E). We show how they move to and fro between (1) supplied textual artefacts, including stated standards and samples of student responses, (2) tacit knowledge of different types, drawing into the moderation, and (3) social processes of dialogue and negotiation. While the stated standards play a part in judgement processes, in and of themselves they are shown to be insufficient to account for how the teachers ascribe value and award a grade to student work in moderation. At issue is the nature of judgement as cognitive and social practice in moderation and the legitimacy (or otherwise) of the mix of factors that shape how judgement occurs.


Institute for Learning Sciences and Teacher Education

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Journal Article

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