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Academic standards, Cooperation, Curriculum development, Educational change, Educational development, Evaluation methods, Higher education, Reporting (Student achievement), School based assessment, Selection, Student assessment


(Australian Education Review; no. 57)

Forward by Gordon Stanley, former President of the NSW Board of Studies, holder of honorary professorships (in Education and Psychology) at the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.


AER 57 reviews research into assessment, especially in schools; it analyses the pivotal role of assessment in learning and argues for its reconceptualisation by practitioners and policy makers to better support learning. The genesis of this AER was the ACER Research Conference Assessment and Student Learning: Collecting, interpreting and using data to inform teaching, held in Perth in August 2009.

Section 1 outlines some current pressures for assessment reform, introduces the concept of a learning assessment system designed to establish where learners are in their progress within an empirically mapped domain of learning, and sketches a set of design principles for such a system. Section 2 considers pressures for assessment reform in greater detail and the implications of these pressures for educational assessment practice. It is observed that traditional assessment methods are often not well aligned with current understandings of learning, and are of limited value for assessing deep understandings, life skills that develop only over extended periods of time, or more personalised and flexible forms of learning. Section 3 analyses and illustrates five design principles for an effective Learning Assessment System. Section 4 considers some practical challenges to the implementation of this kind of Learning Assessment System, including: the changing of widely held perceptions about educational assessment; the development of deep understandings of how learning occurs within specific learning domains; the promotion of more coherent systems of assessment across a range of educational contexts; and the promotion of higher levels of assessment literacy across the profession.

Recommended Citation

Masters, G. (2013). Reforming education assessment: Imperatives, principles and challenges (Australian Education Review No. 57). Retrieved from Australian Council for Educational Research website:

Place of Publication

Melbourne, Vic


Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER)


English, English


9781742862026 (pbk)

Geographic Subject

Australia, Australia

AER 57 cover.pdf (1403 kB)
AER 57 Media Release.pdf (167 kB)
AER 57 Media Release

Reforming Educational Assessment: Imperatives, principles and challenges