Research and analysis

An approach to understanding validation arguments

A paper exploring what it means it means to put validity at the heart of Ofqual's work and how this might be demonstrated.


An approach to validation arguments (Newton, 2017)

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To express Ofqual’s statutory objectives in a nutshell: we regulate so that qualifications are sufficiently valid and are trusted. Validity is at the heart of what we do; and the same is true for the organisations whose qualifications we regulate, which have direct responsibility for designing, developing, delivering and reviewing qualifications.

But what is validity? And how is it possible to judge whether a qualification has sufficient validity? Unfortunately, there are no definitive answers to either of these questions. On the one hand, it can be tricky to pin validity down, because people often mean quite different things when using the term. On the other hand, validation – the work of investigating validity – is not a precise science. Subtle arguments, based upon many different sources of empirical evidence and logical analysis, are required in order to conclude that a qualification has sufficient validity.

This report is intended to help readers to understand what is meant by, and what might be involved in, constructing a validation argument of this sort.

Published 19 October 2017