Assessment -

       Derek Rowntree contended in 1982 that, "The assessment tail can wag and even strangle the educatlonal dog". The power that assessments can have on countries is illustrated in their response to the Pisa international school assessments, which tends to be over simplistically viewed as the equivalent to the football world cup. There tends to be a 'doom and gloom' reaction if countries perform badly in them. 
       Howard recently discovered a multi-choice I.Q. intelligence test on the Media Wales website that was claimed had gone viral on the web. The correct answers were not furnished to readers.
      Howard completed test and to his surprise he was told he had an excellent result. He assumed that he must have had all the answers right. If he had taken the test on another day or a test with different, equivalent questions, he may have obtained a very different result.
 Howard may have guessed some of the answers or got some of the answers right for the wrong reasons. 
       Theoretically it would possible to get answers right through guesswork without knowing the answers. The probability would be low, but people win the lottery despite the odds!
      If  children only got 50% of the answers correct, then it would be less certain what that perform.  They may have done well on the mathematical questions and baldy on the verbal ones.  Another child could have also get 50% by answering the answers he got wrong right. Would both posses the same intelligence and capabilities? 
      What is not understood by the public is that all assessments are 'dip stick' ones. Children are taught and assessed in a only  a proportion of the whole curriculum that they need to prepare and not everything that they should have learnt is assessed.
  It will be assumed that if they reach a given level that they will possess the whole range of the curriculum at that level. This is not necessarily always be the case.
        There will be elements of 'good' or 'bad' luck in all assessments. When Howard did his history A'Level his teacher advised his class not to revise a certain topic by his teacher, because he claimed it would never 'come up'.  I did!
     The extent that children are interested in given topic or are well informed about it will not be equal. Examination techniques can have an influence on how children can performance. Even the skill of doing examinations needs to be grown, practiced.

All these factors means that educational assessment is not an exact science.  

       There are two forms of marking assessment. The traditional form of assessment, like the G.C.E. examinations, were based upon creating an average pass mark based upon the children's overall performance. This meant that if all children performed well in an assessment  the pass mark would be high, if they obtain poorly the pass mark would be low.
           These assessment are competitive. 10% of children would get an A, for instance, the standard required for A one year may be different to the next. 

       The criteria reference test has set standards. Theoretically all children could obtain a C Grade or even A, but the fact that children's potential can and never be equal, means that thiis will never happen.
  The English Government are now using standardised assessments in its rigorous new G.C.S.E. assessments. The system is unfair. A child of average learning potential may work hard a say get C one year,  while a child may get D for it the next year.