All style, no substance;Letter

8th October 1999 at 01:00
I WAS amused by teacher Barrie Day's riposte (TES, September 24) to my defence of the national tests. If I were a key stage 3 English test marker, I would have no hesitation in giving him high marks for style. I would not be so generous, however for accuracy or depth of analysis.

First, I was not singing my own organisation's praises, but quoting the verdict of this summer's independent scrutiny of the tests which concluded that "our system of national tests is well in advance of that of many, if not all, of our international counterparts". This generally positive judgment has been confirmed this year by our own survey of teacher opinion which shows overwhelming test satisfaction.

Second, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has never "sacked" any of its marking agencies.

Third, no one has ever suggested that key stage 2 and 3 English tests are assessing exactly the same things, but broad comparisons are possible using the level descriptions on which both sets of tests are based.

Fourth, appeals against results are running at a very low level. This year they averaged 1.5 per cent of the total number of pupils taking the tests - and this, remember, is an open system where marked scripts are returned to schools.

We have never pretended that the testing regime is perfect - mistakes are clearly sometimes made - and we are committed to a range of improvements following the recent scrutiny. But to deny the overall achievement, on the basis of a single school's experience, is to fail to take the wider view.

Dr Nick Tate

Chief executive

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

29 Bolton Street,

London W1Y

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now