Select Committee on Treasury Minutes of Evidence



MEMORANDUM BY THE STATISTICS COMMISSION

KEY STAGE RESULTS STATISTICS: EXTENT TO WHICH POLICY AND PRACTICE ARE GROUNDED IN THE RESULTS OF RESEARCH

  1.  This note presents supplementary evidence to the Treasury Sub-committee as promised in Sir John Kingman's oral evidence on 16 October 2002. It explains the background to the Statistics Commission's consideration of the extent to which policy and practice in relation to key stage result statistics are grounded in the results of research and refers to information provided to it by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).

  2.  Professor Peter Tymms and others raised concerns about "drift" in standards in key stage 2 literacy tests and the consequential effect on National Statistics based on these. The suggestion was not that the figures were being consciously distorted but that the statistics were not on a precisely consistent basis from year to year because of the intrinsic difficulty in standardising across years. In particular, they were concerned that a small but consistent bias in the method used for standardising from one year to the next would lead to a lowering of standards over time.

  3.  The Commission recognised the wide range of existing research evidence in this area covering educational as well as statistical questions. It asked for information about the extent to which policy and practice in key stage result statistics as a whole (ie not purely key stage 2 literacy) were grounded in such research.

  4.  DfES provided the Commission with a range of information about the standard-setting process and research which was relevant to this. The Commission concluded that although there was some evidence of relevant research being taken into account in formulating policy and practice, this area would benefit from a systematic and rigorous review as part of the National Statistics Quality Review process. The chairman wrote to the National Statistician on 1 October 2002 to request this.

November 2002


 
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