The roles of assessment in primary education : an Egyptian case study
This thesis provides an analysis of the roles fulfilled by educational assessment in primary education. This analysis is called for, now that many policy-makers hold high hopes for the improvement potential of educational assessment. The field research discussed in this thesis derives from Egypt as a political context and an Egyptian primary school as a case study of practice. From these particular arenas, and from literature relating to assessment, conclusions and implications are drawn up which have relevance to other less-industrialised countries and indeed moreindustrialised countries, about the purposes and effects of assessment. In this thesis, purposes for assessment are defined as either stated or unstated; effects of assessment as either intended or unintended. It is suggested that policy makers' official purposes for assessment may be certification or selection; accountability or system improvement; or the improvement of the individual's learning. Government purposes for assessment in Egypt have focused more on selection than certification; more on accountability than system improvement; and more on all of these than on the processes of learning in the classroom. Longer-term purposes have also included political or economic improvement. This research shows that pupils, parents and teachers depend on certification and selection for their personal, social and economic status. As a result, examinations for certification and selection take on prime importance in their daily lives. They may also be associated with pressure and anxiety, a restricted social life and a sense of underachievement and powerlessness, as well as limiting curriculum and teaching methods at school. A prime implication from this research is that assessment could improve the processes of learning and teaching, at the same time as fulfilling summative purposes such as certification and selection. The data imply that learning benefits: when pupils are motivated by tests and examinations; when assessment material in tests and examinations is of high quality; finally, when classroom assessment is skilled.