HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 cc897-8W
Mr. Gibb

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what the Level 4 pass mark for Key Stage 3 tests in(a) English and (b) mathematics was in each year since 1997. [124156]

Mr. Miliband

The threshold mark for Level 4 in the Key Stage 3 tests in(a) English and (b) mathematics between 1997 and 2003 are as follows:

English Mathematics Tier 3–5 Mathematics Tier 4–6 Mathematics Tier 5–7
2003 16 68 30 26
2002 20 66 33 31
2001 21 67 32 31
2000 20 69 33 32
1999 22 69 32 30
1998 25 72 32 31
1997 19 54 28 24

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 2 English and mathematics tests. The Rose Review report validated the development procedures and confirmed that the test data from Key Stage 2 were a reliable measure of pupil attainment.