Is reliability becoming the enemy of validity?

Esse Quam Videri

What would happen if I, as a history graduate, set out to write a mark scheme for a physics GCSE question? I dropped physics after year 9 but I think it is possible I could devise some instructions to markers that would ensure they all came up with the same marks for a given answer. In other words my mark scheme could deliver a RELIABLE outcome. However, what would my enormously experienced physics teacher husband think of my mark scheme? I think he’d either die of apoplexy or from laughing so hard:

“Heather, why on earth should they automatically get 2 marks just because they mentioned the sun? You’ve allowed full marks for students using the word gravity…”

After all I haven’t a notion how to effectively discriminate between different levels of understanding of physics concepts. My mark scheme might be reliable but it would not deliver a valid judgement of the students’ understanding of…

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