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Question selection and volatility in schools’ Mathematics GCSE results

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Crawford, Cara 


This research estimated the extent to which volatility in schools' scores may be attributable to changes in the selection of questions in exam papers. This question was addressed by comparing candidates' performance on two halves of the same assessment. Once student grades were calculated for each half-test, these were aggregated within each school to form school-level outcomes for each half-test (e.g., percentage of students with a grade C or above). Comparing the variation in schools' outcomes for their students' performance on two parts of a single test should give us some idea of the amount of variation in actual year-to-year results that could be due to changes in test questions. This process was applied to a Mathematics GCSE and the results suggest that the exact choice of questions in an exam have only a small impact on school-level results.



Assessment design, Standards, Evaluation of assessment, GCSE/IGCSE

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Research Matters

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Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

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