AATE is seeking contributions for a special issue of English in Australia: Assessing English in the 21st Century edited by project CIs Larissa McLean Davies and Wayne Sawyer.
Deadline for manuscripts: 1 March 2018
The role, purpose and place of assessment, and the relationship between pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, have long been contentious in English teaching.
Analysis of assessment practices in recent years across a range of Anglophone countries reveals sustained engagement with issues of assessment. In her book Testing English: Formative and summative approaches to assessment in English, UK academic Bethan Marshall notes that assessment in English has been a perennial cause for debate, and asks ‘why English teachers are so quarrelsome when it comes to assessing their subject’ (Marshall, 2011, p.1). The answer, she argues, is because English teachers see their subject holistically, as art, and this sits at odds with traditional and standardised approaches to assessment.
Over the past year, in Australia English teachers, curriculum authorities and the mainstream media have turned particular attention to issues of assessment in subject English. This has been prompted not only by the increased attention to the results of high stakes national literacy testing and the resulting impacts on teachers’ pedagogy (Frawley and McLean Davies, 2015), but also because of the intention to use machines to assess sustained written pieces as part of this testing regime (ACARA NRT, 2015). This development, driven by notions of consistency, parity and economics, reflects similar initiatives internationally to rationalise and standardise assessment in the language arts (Perelman, 2013, 2017; Phakiti et al, 2013). These global developments in notions of who or what can assess subject English raise anew debates about what constitutes valuable assessment in English and prompt the focus of this special issue of English in Australia.