'Value-added' test results for schools to be published

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The Independent Online
LEAGUE tables of national curriculum test results will allow parents to compare the contribution which schools have made to children's progress, the Government said yesterday.

Tables will be published showing the proportion of seven, eleven and fourteen-year-olds reaching or bettering the standards expected for their age in national tests, Baroness Blatch, the Education Minister, said. Independent schools will be included.

Ministers have been attacked for publishing test and exam league tables based on raw results: teachers say these are misleading, because schools have widely differing intakes. The first tables of raw GCSE and A-level results will be published next month.

The new proposal, issued for consultation yesterday, is that from 1995 tables will include a 'value-added' index showing how pupils have progressed between one national test and the next.

A school which took in children of average performance at 11, but recorded above average results at 16, would rank higher in a 'value added' league table than a school whose pupils started above average and showed no improvement. The consultation paper says: 'National curriuclum assessment provides an opportunity for the first time to calculate reliable measures of the extent to which schools have enhanced the attainments of pupils over time.'

Because of the time-lag in introducing tests, it will not be possible to calculate the value added by a secondary school to one set of pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 until 1999. Tests for 11-year-olds are not yet in place. Most 11-year- olds are due to sit pilot tests next summer, but the Government has yet to announce the name of the body chosen to develop the tests.

Baroness Blatch called the proposals 'good news' for parents. 'For the first time parents will have access to test results right through the school system on a school-by-school basis.' The tables will give results in maths, English, science, technology, history and geography and, at 14, a modern language. Reading will be included at seven and 11.

Schools' prospectuses will have to show the proportion of seven, 11 and 14-year-olds at each of the 10 levels of the national curriculum.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association, welcomed the plan. He said: 'This is the first step towards devising a sensible system of exam league tables.'

Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said adding one new measure to raw test and exam results was not enough. A school's resources and the degree of support it received from parents should also be taken into account.

The Government will publish details of how it proposes to calculate 'value-added' measures at a later date.

Because of differing policies on admissions into reception classes, the new tables will make allowance for the length of time seven- year-olds have attended school.

Independent schools are not compelled by law to offer national tests, though the Government is urging them to do so. Those which wish to publish their test results will be required to have them verified by independent auditors.