Alternative assessment for learner engagement in a climate of performativity: lessons from an English case study
James, D. and Simmons, J. (2007) Alternative assessment for learner engagement in a climate of performativity: lessons from an English case study. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 14 (3). pp. 353-371. ISSN 0260-2938
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09695940701592022
In many education systems, young peoples’ ‘disaffection’ is increasingly equated with nonparticipation in education, training and employment. There is also an expectation that educational activity can provide a key response to this situation. Drawing upon a case study of a successful development project based in Bristol, England which utilized an ‘alternative’ assessment regime in raising the participation and attainments of young people defined as disengaged from schooling, the paper considers a series of key issues. These include: the nature of the provision; the difficulties of understanding and evaluating it in a climate of performativity; a distinctive concept of learning promoted by the assessment practices; and the role of individual and networked professional mediation in creating the ‘space’ for the initiative. The paper concludes that the case study project represents a ‘marriage of convenience’ between the expectations of a culture of performativity and, on the other hand, a horizontal community of practice which provides a strong professional framework for action, and that there are implications for both practice and policy.
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