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Test forecasts exceeded at 11

ELEVEN-year-olds' strong performance in this year's national science and English tests took their teachers by surprise.

Latest analysis by the Department for Education and Employment shows teacher assessments substantially underestimated their pupils, contrasting with the two previous years' predictions which were over-optimistic.

Science and English test results are three percentage points above teachers' assessments at key stage 2. In previous years, the results have lagged to a similar degree behind teacher assessment.

In some areas this year, teacher assessments in science average 10 percentage points below test scores.

In Hertfordshire, 85 per cent of 11-year-olds achieved the required standard in science, but teachers assessed only 75 per cent as having reached it. Teachers in Suffolk assessed 65 per cent of their pupils as having reached the required standard, but test results put 72 per cent at that level. Across the country, there is an average gap of of three percentage points between test scores and teacher assessment.

The difference in science may partly be because teachers assess the practical investigative skills of 11-year-olds, while written tests assess their knowledge. Local authority science advisers believe teachers are developing greater expertise in teaching to the test.

Teacher assessments will not be included in the tables in future because the DFEE says it is too complicated to collect them.

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