Skip to main content

Decline in GCSE English standards

John Steadman suggests that the researchers "who revealed that key stage 2 English tests have become easier could take a look at GCSE English" ("Is GCSE English also getting easier?", TES, April 20).

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


Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you