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English malaise

Before the unions condemn the results of key stage tests (TES, 30 August), it would seem wiser to examine the basis for deciding levels. The "expected" levels of attainment have not been based on accredited research. On the contrary, they appear to have been plucked from the rarefied air by the inhabitants of some ivory tower. Research at Durham University (TES, August 30) points the way clearly to a need for baseline assessment to give informed guidance for a starting point to an expected level.

Setting level expectations, in the dark, is like "putting the cart before the horse" - a typical English malaise.

DR JULIA MATTHEWS Honorary research associate, University of Greenwich London

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