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Value-added stats

The School Curriculum and Assessment Authority intends progressively to increase the value that schools can extract from their test results. As the tests settle down and become statistically more reliable and valid year on year, information will be extracted from them on pupil performance within levels and within various aspects of the core subjects.

Thus, at key stage 1, where there is the longest experience of tests, SCAA will next year provide schools with tables to enable teachers to work out from the reading assessment a level and a standardised age-related score - what teachers of my generation would call a "reading age" for each pupil.

This will not form any part of the statutory framework, which will remain tied only to levels. The plan is that this kind of "extra" will gradually increase across subjects and key stages, and will extend to include "value-added" measures. (A report on this is being prepared by a Newcastle University team.) There will also be more work done on the vexed question of the comparability of levels between key stages.

According to SCAA's David Hawker, all of this work "relates to the longer-term agenda for national tests which is to produce the kind of information which will be useful not only for the government and the public but also for schools in helping them to tell whether or not they are being effective in teaching the curriculum.

"This is a crucial time in the development of national testing in schools. We need to agree clearly what its purposes are and then decide what needs to be done to ensure that it fulfils those purposes."

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