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Testing times

What is one to make of the latest 5-14 test results? We are told that early intervention is making a difference - and then we are told to discard the P2 results because they are so unreliable. It is rather bizarre that teachers' inconsistency is uniquely confined to this stage. It is surely incumbent on the Executive to explain why this should be so, rather than leaving it as a footnote in a press release.

But if the figures are otherwise reliable, they do reveal as unsatisfactory a picture as the Education Minister has confirmed. It is disquieting to learn, for example, that nearly all P3 pupils get to their required level A in maths while barely half scrape through to level E in S2. That is a major cause for concern. Like many of the 5-14 figures, however, it begs more questions than it answers. Is the difference due to teaching, to the problems of secondary transition - or to the nature of the levels? Perhaps we will be told.

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