I have been grappling for over a decade with the issue of what to measure in school education.
This started in 2002 with work on science and mathematics (as well as STEM) education policy in England via ACME and SCORE. This occasionally went international in the sense that we looked at the other 3 UK nations and further abroad, depending on the subject and relevance.
Since I began self-employment six months ago, the focus has moved to what actually happens on the ground in education within a defined local area. I live in South West London where my daughter goes to school, so I have examined this part of the world most closely.
What are my conclusions? If only I could provide some simple answers …. well here at least here are some bullets that will try to be concise:
- there is no real agreement on WHAT to measure in school education
- depending on your philosophy, what is IMPORTANT to measure ranges from individual student test or examination results to the societal impact of very large structural change programmes, with lots in between …
- INTELLIGENT measuring is essential. By this I mean deciding SELF-CRITICALLY and in an EVIDENCE-INFORMED way about the key outcomes required from an education system
- This is where things get tricky due to the inherent conflict between points 1 and 3 above
- I don’t believe it is helpful to impose rigid and uniform standards on huge numbers of young people – one assumes that even Ofqual and Ofsted officials, as the regulators and inspectors of the English school education system answerable only to Parliament, understand this.
- Hence my push for locally agreed solutions with decisions on key outcomes, and their measurement, made by those who know best the situation on the ground – the parallel in a war (which I loathe) is generals allowing their officers to give commands that change the course of a battle. This happens!
I could add more bullets but I think I will stop. ‘The enemy of measurement is a lack of brevity’.