Struggling pupils fall further and further behind as they get older, claims a report for the Social Market Foundation by the right-wing researcher, John Marks.
The analysis of national tests at seven, 11, 14 and 16 by the Educational Research Trust director, suggests the variation in performance between pupils is far wider at 14 than at seven. The difference between the best and worst schools with similar intakes increases from about two-and-a-half years at seven to five years or more at 14.
Overall, the report suggests standards have risen slightly between 1995 and 1997, but the average standard achieved by pupils remains significantly below predicted when the tests were designed.
The paper says that seven-year-olds' results are slightly ahead of expected standards, but the 11-year-olds' results suggest pupils are a year behind what might have been expected. The 14-year-olds' results are about two years behind.