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Title: Policy, practice and assessment : revealing the relationship between the GCSE English assessment and educational reproduction
Author: Johnson, Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 7655 5133
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2015
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The impact of neo-liberalism on education policy and practice in England means that assessment at GCSE is higher stakes than ever, not just for the students, for whom it determines access to courses and jobs, but for teachers and schools under ever-increasing pressure to meet performance targets. Given the published evidence regarding the strong relationship between family background, academic achievement and future income, this research considers how the GCSE English assessment contributes to the maintenance of the status quo with regards to advantage and disadvantage. The details of the assessments, the structures of the assessment systems as well as the impact of those systems on schools, teachers and students are matters of policy, hence this research is within the tradition of policy scholarship. In it I set out to engage with and understand policy, and to reveal its impacts through the lens of Bourdieusian thinking. I use interview data from students, teachers and examiners as well as documentary analysis of examination papers and mark schemes in order to give voice to those with lived experiences of the assessment and to explore the case of GCSE English assessment from multiple perspectives. I use the data to examine the ways in which the assessment privileges a culturally specific form of English in a way that necessarily includes and excludes particular groups of students. I reveal how the assessment advantages students with wide world knowledge and privileges the ability to instinctively access formal discourse. Through examining the ways in which teachers, students and examiners conceptualise English GCSE I reveal the relationships between assessment, curriculum and classroom practice and thus uncover the impacts that policy is having on teaching and learning and on teachers and students. As a result I recommend changes in policy as well as in teaching and assessment practices: I recommend that awarding organisations review their procedures to ensure that a greater range of voices informs assessment procedures; I recommend a shift in emphasis in the GCSE English assessment to focus on an understanding of language and the relationships between discourse and power; I recommend that teachers find ways within the classroom to enable students to use their funds of knowledge; and finally, regarding policy, I recommend an open conversation about what is taught, assessed and measured and for what purposes.
Supervisor: Raffo, Carlo ; Gunter, Helen Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: assessment ; curriculum ; policy ; cultural capital ; habitus