I'm writing in response to your article "Easy science tests miss out the science" (TES, May 5). There is overwhelming agreement in the science community that it is important for pupils to understand how science works, as well as knowing scientific facts. These are important aspects of the keystage 3 curriculum.
"Scientific Enquiry" questions make up about 40 per cent of the papers and require pupils to explain how they put their scientific knowledge into practice. These questions require logical reasoning, evaluation and extended responses.
The KS3 science test is a test of scientific understanding. The questions are extensively pre-tested with pupils over a two-year period to ensure that they are at the appropriate level of difficulty. When considered as a whole, the tests are designed to cover what children have learned over the past three years.
The questions in the KS3 science tests range from national curriculum level 3 to level 7 - the level description for level 3 is understandably going to require vastly different scientific skills, knowledge and understanding from those required for level 7.
Sally Ann Lister
KS3 science test development manager
National Assessment Agency
29 Bolton Street, London