A study has been done: Aspects of writing in English Examinations at 16+ between 1980 and 1994 by AJ Massey and GL Elliott, published in 1996 by the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate. The findings strongly suggest a decline in standards of written English.
On the same letters page, Michael Todd writes: "This measurement craze trivialises what we (teachers) do, and sets children up to be knocked down."
But sbjective judgments are not enough: without objective checks, we cannot be sure whether students are performing as well as their predecessors or peers taught by other teachers.
Three years ago, a Scottish study showed that a change in teaching methods could produce far better reading and spelling (Accelerating reading attainment: the effectiveness of synthetic phonics, by JE Watson and RS Johnston, published in 1998 by the Scottish Office). I think the teachers involved would be the first to welcome the objective testing which showed the scale of improvement achieved.
Jennifer Chew The Mount, Malt Hill Egham, Surrey