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Welcome to the ARG website

The aim of the Assessment Reform Group (ARG) is to ensure that assessment policy and practice at all levels takes account of relevant research evidence. In pursuit of this aim the main targets for the Group's activity are policy-makers in government and its agencies. It also works closely with teachers, teacher organisations and local education authority staff to advance understanding of the roles, purposes and impacts of assessment.

As a voluntary group of researchers, the ARG originated in 1989 as the Policy Task Group on Assessment set up by the British Educational Research Association (BERA). See the ARG Archive for the initial membership. The Group presented a symposium at the annual BERA conference in every year throughout the 1990s upto 2004 and again in 2007 and has run seven regional BERA conferences on assessment. In 1996, when BERA ceased to support policy task groups, the Group adopted the name ARG and its meetings were funded small grants from the Nuffield Foundation.

The activities of the Group include study of the implications of assessment policy and practice, reviewing research and disseminating findings through conferences, seminars and publications. One view of how the Group has attempted to mediate between research and policy can be found in the paper by Daugherty (2007) ‘Mediating academic research: the Assessment Reform Group experience' in Research Papers in Education 22 (2), 139-153.

In its early years the Group was particularly concerned to study the introduction of the national testing and assessment in the four countries of the UK and to stimulate discussion at national levels of their impact on schools and classroom practices. Subsequently the focus has broadened to the use of assessment to advance learning as well as to summarise and report it.

In 2000 the ARG set up the Assessment and Learning Research Synthesis Group (ALRSG) to review research relating to the practice, processes and outcomes of assessment in schools. The ALRSG was registered as a Collaborative Review Group of the DfES-funded Evidence for Policy and Practice Information Co-ordinating (EPPI) Centre. Five reviews have now been completed and published in the EPPI-Centre's on-line Research Evidence in Education Library.

In 2003 the Nuffield Foundation awarded the ARG a major project to explore the role that assessment by teachers could take for summative purposes. The project – Assessment Systems for the Future: the place of assessment by teachers (ASF) began in September 2003 and was completed in June 2006. Outcomes include a pamphlet entitled The Role of Teachers in the Assessment of Learning, published in 2006, setting out the project's major findings, and a book Assessment of Learning by Wynne Harlen published by Sage in 2007 (see Publications).

Two projects began in September 2006 – ASLO (Assessment of Significant Learning Outcomes) which is funded by the ESRC through the Teaching and Learning Research Programme (TLRP) and ARIA ( Analysis and Review of Innovations in Assessment), funded by the Nuffield Foundation. These take forward the Group's current focus on the relationship between assessment, the curriculum and pedagogy and its implications for changing assessment practice. These projects have now been completed. Further work in collaboration with TLRP is being planned (see News) and a book arising from the ARIA project will be pubished by the Open University Press in late 2009.

Assessment and Learning, a major book written by ARG members, edited by John Gardner, was published by Sage in 2006. For details see Publications.


© ARG 2008

Last update: Dec 2008