This small-scale study into the summative assessment practices in ICT of schools in the North West of England identifies a lack of consistency in teacher assessment at the end of KS3. \ud \ud \ud Central to the research is a consideration of what is meant by ICT capability. This phrase is important in this research because it is the term used in Government policy documents to indicate what schools are to assess in ICT at the end of KS3. Hence, if ICT assessment is to be consistent, there should be a shared understanding of this term. The research explores the lack of common understanding of the term in literature and then goes on to illustrate how this lack of understanding is mirrored in schools. This results in inconsistency of practice in assessing ICT in schools. This inconsistency of practice is explored through in-depth interviews with a number of Heads of Department from a range of Secondary Schools in the North West of England. \ud \ud \ud Alongside the main consideration of assessment of ICT, the research also explores recent trends in assessment practices in English schools. The problematic nature of summative assessment is discussed as indicated by the attempts in the English National Curriculum to link assessment to observable and measurable criteria and how this leads to more and more trivialisation of what is being assessed. Assessment ‘backwash’ is considered where the outcomes of summative assessment are used in ways for which they were not originally intended; for example where summative assessment results such as those generated at the end of KS3 are used to measure the overall ‘quality’ of a school in comparison with other schools. Brief consideration is given to the recent focus on formative assessment techniques, as typified by the 2008 UK Government publication of an Assessment for Learning Strategy, although only in order to illustrate emerging assessment practices in schools. \ud \ud \ud A range of implications for schools and their assessment practices (particularly in relation to ICT) are identified
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