HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc896-7W
Mr. Gibb

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what percentage of students gained five A*-C grades(a) excluding and (b) including GNVQ results in each year between 1995 and 2002; and if he will make a statement. [123963]

Mr. Miliband

The percentage of 15 year olds achieving five grades A*-C at GCSE or equivalent from 1995 to 2002 are shown in the table below.

Mr. Miliband

The threshold mark for Level 4 at Key Stage Two in each year between 1997 and 2002 was as follows:

Level 4 pass marks for Key Stage Two tests
English Mathematics
2002 49 49
2001 50 49
2000 49 50
1999 48 52
1998 51 52
1997 52 40

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is responsible for the development and administration of the National Curriculum tests on behalf of the Secretary of State. There is a process in place, the level setting exercise, to ensure standards are maintained year on year. The level thresholds are the range of marks needed to achieve a particular level in the National Curriculum tests.

The test development processes used by QCA include trials of written questions that are improved and finalised before administration. The pre-testing establishes comparability across key stages and across years. The technical information collected by these stages is considered alongside other evidence in order to set levels that are consistent from year to year.

The confirmation of the final level thresholds takes the form of a meeting chaired by QCA and attended by representatives from the test development agencies, chief markers, QCA officers, researchers and statisticians, representatives from professional associations and independent academics and observers.

The Government are satisfied that the quality control procedures in place for test development and level setting are thorough and rigorous. In July 1999, an Independent Scrutiny Panel, chaired by Jim Rose, considered QCA's arrangements for setting and maintaining the standards of the Key Stage Two English and mathematics tests. The Rose Review report validated the development procedures and confirmed that the test data from Key Stage Two was a reliable measure of pupil attainment.