Norm clouds

14th June 1996 at 01:00
Nicholas Tate, chief executive of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, states (Letters, TES, May 31) that the current test processing is "exactly analogous to setting grade boundaries in GCSE and A-levels".

Is he aware that the public examinations were not designed to be tests? They provide certificates to motivate candidates and they give only a rough idea of the levels achieved.

Scientific tests are quite different; they can be repeated with results which correlate. Moreover, criterion-referencing is the basis of national curriculum assessment and this is incompatible with norm-referencing.

Perhaps Dr Tate would like to explain how the voluntary GCSE examinations can become compulsory key stage 4 tests in 1998.

MICHAEL NOLAN 205 Heysham Road Morecambe Lancashire

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