Feedback loops for intelligent accountability

   Validity inquiry 5: How can feedback inform assessment quality?

Teachers manage multiple layers of accountability – to the syllabus, to school, to students, to professional peers. It is important to find ways to present everyday evidence of assessment outcomes to colleagues who can give feedback and validate or question decisions.

Intelligent accountability occurs through a process of practical inquiry into the assumptions and activities at each juncture of assessment choice, so an argument for validity can be created (Kane, 2015). Where schools may have previously had access to formative feedback from Year 11 review panels, in the new system schools will be able to design ways to argue for the validity of their assessment design work.

This proposed system for local, intelligent accountability builds on the ideas of Crooks, Kane & Cohen (1996) where validity is represented as testing the strength of the links in the chain of assessment design decisions. The five linked inquiries support teachers to create an argument for the validity of their assessment designs and practice.

Opportunities for this type of ongoing inquiry need to be designed ahead of time. Drawing from the experiences of teachers in the two schools, we have put together the following model that might guide your thinking, with guidelines for schools: Supporting New Senior Assessment Resource for Schools version 1

a system for local validity

Through teacher conversations about assessment evidence and judgment, teachers develop an understanding of the explicit but also latent quality criteria that are relevant to their discipline (Wyatt-Smith & Klenowski, 2014). This regular professional interchange is important for teacher assessors to continually scrutinise the processes of assessment, both academic and social, to inform and shape assessment in productive and ethical ways (Torrance, 2017).

At the heart of the inquiry process is a culture where teachers seek feedback on their assessment work. In the video discussion below, you can find out from the teachers what they found beneficial from this process.

What have been some benefits in seeking feedback on your work?

Discuss with a colleague:

How might critical review and feedback be further supported and valued as a form of intelligent accountability in your context?




Crooks, T. J., Kane, M. T., & Cohen, A. S. (1996). Threats to the valid use of assessments. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 3(3), 265-286. doi:10.1080/0969594960030302

Kane, M. T. (2016). Explicating validity. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 23(2), 198-211. doi:10.1080/0969594X.2015.1060192

Torrance, H. (2017). Blaming the victim: assessment, examinations, and the responsibilisation of students and teachers in neo-liberal governance. Discourse: studies in the Cultural Politics of Education38(1), 83-96.

Wyatt-Smith, C., & Klenowski, V. (2014). Elements of better assessment for the improvement of learning: A focus on quality, professional judgment and social moderation. In C. Wyatt-Smith, V. Klenowski, & P. Colbert. (Eds.), Designing assessment for quality learning (pp. 191–206). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer.