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Rob Coe is Director of Research and Development at Evidence Based Education and Senior Associate at the Education Endowment Foundation. He is a Visiting Professor of Education at the Centre for Mathematical Cognition at Loughborough University. He was previously Professor of Education and Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University, UK, and before that a teacher of secondary mathematics.

Rob’s research covers educational assessment, evaluation and evidence-based practice, with a focus on working with teachers and schools to connect evidence and practice. He is lead author of the 2020 Great Teaching Toolkit: Evidence Review and the 2014 Sutton Trust report What Makes Great Teaching? and a co-author of the Education Endowment Foundation’s Teaching and Learning Toolkit, and the Teacher Development Trust’s Developing Great Teaching report. He is a member of advisory groups for a wide range of education, assessment and policy organisations.

Keynote Session

Assessment Purpose and Quality:

Understanding the limits of what assessment can do, and how to get there

Every time a teacher or school leader allocates time to doing any kind of assessment, there should be a clear purpose to justify that investment. Some assessments support learning directly without providing information on which to base a decision, but often the justification lies in improving the decisions that an assessment informs. Being clear what decisions we need to make and what kinds of information they require is a key part of using assessment well. These distinctions are sometimes characterised as ‘formative’ or ‘summative’ assessment, but it is a bit more complicated than that. Only when we are clear about purpose can we judge the quality of an assessment; once we understand quality, we can select, develop and improve our assessments to be the best possible and leverage the maximum impact on our students’ learning.

In this presentation I will explore some of the different purposes of assessment, the different kinds of decisions teachers and school leaders need to make, and the implied requirements for practical, high-quality assessment.

Spotlight Session

What Makes an Assessment Great, and How would You Know?

This workshop will explore the idea of quality in assessment. Traditionally, this is understood in terms of concepts like validity and reliability, and these ideas will be explicated. The full process of validation is long, complex and technical, and not appropriate for typical in-school assessments, but there are some components that may offer more value than is traditionally recognised.

A particular focus is the use of assessment to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of teaching. The workshop will explore a range of challenges here, and offer advice for a constructive approach that supports teachers to improve their practice.

Participants will have the opportunity to reflect on and evaluate their own use of classroom and school-based assessments, considering the purposes they are intended to fulfil, the decisions they may inform, and the assessment’s fitness for those purposes. We will also introduce a tool designed to help educators evaluate and improve the quality of their assessments.

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