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What criteria for value-added?;Letter

Now that the Government has decided to use value-added scores based on key stage 3 results to measure progress at KS4 (TES, March 13), I will be interested to see if inspectors and their report editors at the Office for Standards in Education are required also to accept their validity for measuring progress.

When Willesden High School was inspected in December 1997, the inspectors were provided with such value-added scores for the 1997 KS4 cohort who had KS3 test results (about 70 per cent).

Essentially for each student the KS3 scores for mathematics, science and English were aggregated and used to predict GCSE point scores as described in the Department for Education and Employment research paper RS14.

The average difference between predicted and actual points was used to provide a measure of progress for this KS4 cohort. In this way we evaluated the total GCSE point score, average GCSE point score and also separate GCSE scores for mathematics, science and English. This data showed that for English and science and average GCSE point scores, this KS4 cohort achieved predicted GCSE points, while for total GCSE and mathematics point scores it achieved significantly more than predicted, that is value-added scores.

The verbal OFSTED report to governors included conflicting statements, for example "pupils achieve expected progress between Years 9 and 11" and "unsatisfactory progress made overall".

We assumed this disparity was because of the conflict between the OFSTED criteria for measuring progress and our method.

However, the final report made no favourable comments about student progress at KS4. It merely retained the negative comments indicating unsatisfactory progress overall and in maths and science at all key stages.

Has the time come for an evaluation of the criteria used by OFSTED to measure progress?

GILL REED

Teacher governor Willesden high school London NW10

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