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Project 2: Language Accessibility

The brief for this project, as commissioned by Ofqual, was to research and write a set of theoretical and methodological guidelines that should be followed by assessment developers and regulators when checking the principles of paper modification and their impact on learners taking the National Curriculum Assessments in the United Kingdom.

The Regulatory Framework for National Assessments (2011) in the UK proposed that National Curriculum Assessments should be:

  1. appropriate to age of the test takers
  2. an effective measure of their abilities, skills and concept development
  3. fair to all irrespective of gender, language, religion, ethnic or social origin or disability.

The rationale for this Language Accessibility Guidance is that 'fairness' is based on language. This is the means of expression within National Curriculum Assessments, and it is the means by which the performance of those who undertake the assessments is judged. The key question, therefore, was how such 'fairness' could be assured. This required a thorough search of the literature to explore the effects on performance of examination candidates of various aspects of language accessibility (readability).