Online tests for all pupils by 2003

30th June 2000 at 01:00
Drive to raise standards leads to 'evolutionary, not revolutionary' plan. Sarah Cassidy reports

NATIONAL tests could soon be taken online, as part of a major review of the assessment system.

From 2003, children's scripts could also be scanned onto the Internet and sent electronically around the country to markers, under plans being considered by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

National testing is definitely here to stay, Education Secretary David Blunkett has told the QCA, and will continue in English, maths and science beyond 2002 - the deadline for the Government's ambitious national targets.

The new focus on raising standards at key stage 3 has made the review even more pertinent, according to the QCA.

Mr Blunkett has asked the assessment authority to review the testing system for 2003 and beyond.

The tests will remain unchanged until 2002, to ensure the reliability of the results on which Mr Blunkett has staked his job.

Mr Blunkett has asked the QCA to see how the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the testing system could be improved, particularly by using new technology. Officials plan to look at the test development process, administration and marking and collection of results.

Tim Cornford, head of the QCA's assessment division who is conducting the review, said: "This will be about evolution rather than revoluion.

"We will be looking to build on the strengths of the current statutory tests without increasing the overall assessment burden.

"I think teachers will immediately notice the difference.

"From 2003 we hope to improve on the administration of the tests using technology to get the results to teachers more quickly. In the longer term,

we are looking to deliver the tests electronically."

The QCA is holding consultation meetings with unions, subject associations, local authority organisations and OFSTED to discuss the future of the tests until the end of July.

It must give David Blunkett a set of recommendations by the end of September.

A review of the testing system was recommended last year in the report of the Rose inquiry - the investigation which was sparked by claims that the QCA had rigged the tests.

The inquiry gave the system a clean bill of health but concluded that, while the tests should remain unchanged until 2002, they should be reviewed for 2003 and beyond.

In his instructions to the QCA, Mr Blunkett made it clear that any future developments must build on the strengths of present testing arrangements. The tests will continue to measure the attainment of individual pupils; monitor national performance; contribute to the improvement of teaching and learning; and help evaluate the effectiveness of schools.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today