Level confirmation was valid

28th June 1996 at 01:00
My former colleague Peter Lacey is perhaps being disingenuous in revealing his ignorance about what is going on at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (TES, June 14). This year's level confirmation exercise was intended to check, by looking at the marks gained by a nationally representative sample of pupils, that the tests were performing as expected. This is exactly what it did. As a result, all of the level thresholds were set on the basis of the criteria established through pre-testing.

In key stage 2 English, the pre-test analysis took place after the marker training materials had been prepared, and therefore the thresholds given in those materials were deliberately arbitrary. The final English thresholds are the ones set as a result of the pre-test. And in KS2 science, the pre-test data had indicated a mark higher for level 5 than the one issued as provisional. The marks on the test bore out the pre-test data, and so we have set the threshold for level 5 at the pre-test value.

So our level confirmation exercise has shown that the tests themselves are performing as expected and standards are secure. We have a responsibility to double-check everything we do so that we can be sure we have got it right. Those we invited to scrutinise the process seem to agree that we have.

David Hawker Assistant chief executive (statutory assessment) School Curriculum and Assessment Authority Newcombe House 45 Notting Hill GateLondon W11

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