Mixed messages on national tests

MANY of us agree with Professor Peter Tymms (TES, June 21) that the end-of-key-stage tests do a poor job of monitoring standards over time.

I thought, when I read the article (TES, May 10), that the National Foundation for Educational Research was agreeing with Professor Tymms's view that reading standards had not risen as the key stage 2 results would seem to suggest.

Chris Whetton, NFER assistant director, was quoted as saying that if standards had really changed, the NFER would have had to restandardise its own tests, but that this had not happened in the past four years.

However, in a letter a couple of weeks later, Dr Whetton implied that there had been a genuine improvement in literacy attainment at key stage 2 (TES, May 24). I find it difficult to reconcile these two NFER statements.

The NFER produces both its own standardised tests and the key stage 2 tests. Which are we supposed to trust - the tests showing rising standards (the key stage 2 tests, which are different every year) or the tests showing no change (the standardised tests, which are long-standing and unchanging)?

Jennifer Chew The Mount Malt Hill Egham Surrey

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