International expert panel to define new gold standard in assessment

Pearson is to bring together an international panel of assessment and education experts to support the development of a new gold standard qualification for age 16.

Pearson, which has a presence in education provision and support in over 70 countries, plans to work with the group to set out a blueprint for assessments which are

  • Internationally benchmarked and rigorous
  • Designed to cater for all ability levels and set high expectations for all
  • Relevant for the changing landscape of the 21st century

The Panel will be chaired by Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor Sir Michael Barber, one of the world’s leading education experts and will include representatives from the OECD, Harvard, University of Durham, the National Institute of Education Singapore, University of Warwick, as well as Peter Hill, formerly Chief Executive of the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority and Secretary General of Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.

Pearson is committed to working with the Panel to create a new suite of qualifications, initially in the key subjects of English, Mathematics and the Sciences.

The company also plans to share the insights and suggestions of the Panel with the Department for Education and others to inform ongoing discussions about the reform of GCSEs and A levels.

Rod Bristow, President of Pearson UK, said:

“The Government has this summer started a hugely important debate about whether what we are teaching and testing in our schools is doing our children justice.

“We are working with some of the world’s most eminent academic institutions and respected authorities in assessment to look beyond the UK to determine what excellence looks like internationally, and how we can embed it in the UK.

“It is vital that qualifications are of the right standard to help people progress and prosper in the 21st century. All young people should be reaching for a standard which will set them apart from the rest of the world in the ambition and relevance of what they know and can do.”

Sir Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, and Chair of the Expert Group on World Class Qualifications, said:

“The UK Government has set an ambitious agenda for the reform of education, with a particular focus on qualifications and assessment. They have been the first to turn to international data and comparators to diagnose the issues and problems they see in the system.

“The gold standard is not what happened in the 1950s in England, it is what is already happening in Singapore and Hong Kong and Ontario and Alberta. The gold standard is being set by the best education systems ready for the 21st century.

“As an international education company Pearson is uniquely placed to draw on our own work with Governments around the world and bring together the best and brightest in seeking to improve the quality and effectiveness of our qualifications.

“A crucial part of this work will be a new focus on using technology to make assessments more accurate and personalised. If we crack this, then we will be in position where the UK is ahead of the pack on educational innovation and reform.”

Andreas Schleicher, Special Advisor on Education to the OECD, said:

“Through PISA, OECD have set the current gold standard in international comparative assessment. This is important because Governments are able to really understand the impact of investment and reform they are making.

“In a global economy, it is no longer improvement by national standards alone, but the best performing education systems internationally that are the benchmark for success.

“What’s exciting about this programme is that it seeks to create a new approach to national assessment that will allow Government to compare performance with the best performing education systems globally”.

Peter Hill said:

“We shouldn’t lose sight of the high regard the UK’s examination system is held in. However it is absolutely right to push the envelope on what can be achieved.

“Education systems must embrace the significant opportunity to design assessments which are more rigorous and reliable in testing the skills higher education and employers want.

“Even in its early stages, this work is grappling with the tough question as to how we can set a standard for education which encompasses the new and fast changing skills needs of the 21st century, and extends the opportunity to achieve them to all.”