I am surprised the Department for Education and Employment's calculations are still based upon levels awarded in the KS3 SATs rather than raw scores. It seems there is a world of difference between a good Level 6 and a poor one, which is totally ignored in their figures.
I work in a 14-18 upper school in Leicestershire and we have an intake of around 500 students into Year 10. In order to set these students for mathematics it is necessary to differentiate much more finely than just by levels. We work on the raw scores in the mathematics SATs and interpolate between level thresholds to give a decimal number. Thus 6.97 would equate to a top level 6 but 6.06 would be a poor level 6. Surely this type of calculation would provide a more finely-tuned baseline for the DFEE?
The DFEE KS3 score and the GCSE score are not measured in the same units. It is like measuring the temperature today in Celsius and tomorrow in Fahrenheit and then trying to work out the rise.
When the national curriculum was first phased in for key stage 4, the structure of levels was continued up to 10 which represented an A*. This system did not last for long, but in our mathematics faculty we have continued to use this scale as a measure of our output for GCSE mathematics. This year, our examination board gave us raw marks for mathematics GCSE assessments. This enabled us to make an interpolation for GCSE similar to the above calculation for SATs. We have evolved a system over several years and the figures generated seem fairly stable. I would like to hear from anyone with experience relevant to this issue. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .uk.