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Fall and decline

The TES leader of November 22 and associated article "Results show rise in standards is slowing" radically underestimate the extent to which the rate of GCSE improvement has declined since the publication of "league tables".

They estimated a decline in the annual rate of increase in the percentage of pupils achieving at least five grade Cs from one of 1.8 percentage points per annum in the three-year period 1989-92 to one of 1.6 percentage points per annum in the four-year period 1992-96. However, this estimate was based on incomparable data for these two periods and on the least representative of the performance tables' three indicators of GCSE achievement.

When more properly and roundly assessed, we estimate that the decline in the previous rate of improvement is at the very least double the figure of 11 per cent suggested by The TES analysis, and quite probably at least 50 per cent.

CHARLES BELL

Article 26

BM Bell

London WC1

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