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Standards-based assessment for an era of increasing transparency
chapterposted on 2017-01-01, 00:00 authored by David BoudDavid Boud
The macro policy context for assessment in higher education has changed to focus on explicit standards and learning outcomes. While different countries and institutions are at different stages of the process of reorienting assessment to become more directly standards based, the implications for assessment and learning are substantial. Assessment becomes transparent in multiple ways: it is possible to report on what students can actually do, rather than how they stand vis-à-vis others (norm-referenced assessment). Outcomes can be compared across courses, institutions and countries. Students can progressively track their achievement of outcomes when these are explicit. Assessment becomes open to scrutiny as never before as standards-based assessment requires a scaling up of transparency. This chapter explores the new context of assessment and what opportunities it affords. It considers the implications for assessment practice and identifies ways in which the new framework directly conflicts with familiar taken-for-granted assessment practices, such as conventional grading. It concludes by pointing to new opportunities offered and what needs to be done to realize them.