Letter: School tests: pluses and minuses

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Sir: Time and again, John Patten has expressed concern about the large numbers of 16-year-olds who have a reading age of 14. This displays a gross misunderstanding of reading tests.

Reading tests for 16-year-olds are based on taking the average performance to indicate a reading age of 16 years. As such, half of all 16-year- olds will perform below this average, and half above. Citing the number of below average readers is a simple way to rubbish standards, when one could just as easily claim the large number of above average readers implies high standards. What really matters is quality of performance. Research here shows no drop in standards.

Yours sincerely,


Department of Educational Studies

University of York

Heslington, North Yorkshire

11 May