Entrenching performativity or enhancing pedagogy: Addressing the challenge of assessment policy and practice

Keywords: assessment systems, performativity, formative assessment, assessment for learning


The focus of the South African Education Research Association’s Assessment and Testing Special Interest
Group (SIG) is to contribute to current initiatives and debates pertaining to the development and implementation
of assessment systems for improving learning and teaching. In particular, the SIG’s members aim to address
dominant performativity discourses impacting schools and universities by (1) providing a common
understanding of the purpose and use of assessment, (2) locating the different assessment applications across the
broader system within which learning and teaching occurs, and (3) highlighting recent initiatives impacting on
assessment policy and practices. We think it essential to highlight critical policy and practice questions, while
simultaneously acknowledging ongoing challenges for implementing enabling assessment systems that support
the specific pedagogical needs of learners, teachers, students, and lecturers. Notwithstanding the complexities ofeffecting change, increasing discourse on, as well as relevant critique of, policies and practices that fail to
improve learning and teaching, enhances possibilities for implementing enabling assessment policy and practice
that seek to address the elusive challenge of equity and quality within the education system.