No radical plan for national tests

14th September 2001 at 01:00
I am concerned that many teachers will have been misled by your front-page article "Teachers may decide when to test pupils" (TES, September 7).

This was wrong on three significant points. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has certainly not, at any time, advised the Secretary of State to "scrap the ... week of national curriculum tests"; there are no plans to introduce multiple-choice tests, in maths or any other subject; and separate papers for reading and writing in English, not a combined paper, are in fact being developed at key stage 3.

While the national curriculum and testing will always be a subject of discussion, the QCA has not advised the Secretary of State to "revolutionise" national curriculum tests.

A review of national curriculum assessment was carried out last year and focused on three key areas: developments that would strengthen the tests; using information and communications technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the system; and improving the quality of teaching and learning through "assessment for learning".

However, ways of recognising high achievement are indeed being considered and it is certainly true that the future of assessment will, in part, be shaped by new technologies.

QCA has also been asked by ministers to develop a new test to assess pupils' attainment in ICT at key stage 3. We are also investigating the latest developments in scanning and marking software.

This is not change for change's sake. On the contrary, I consider it vital that we maintain and develop the current system of national curriculum assessment so that it keeps pace with developments in the wider world.

This is a process of evolution rather than revolution and is founded on advice from our many partners, recognising that change must bring positive benefits, not just something new or different.

David Hargreaves Chief executive Qualifications and Curriculum Authority 83 Piccadilly London W1

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