§ Mr. Miliband
[holding answer 4 May 2004]: We do not collect test and examination results direct from schools. The National Curriculum test results for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 are provided to the Department by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority's National Assessment Agency (NAA). The NAA collect those results from the External Marking Agencies at the same time as the results are issued to schools. Similarly, GCSE and A level examination results come to the Department from the Awarding Bodies at the same time as the results issue to students and schools.
To enable publication of accurate information in the school and college performance tables, we collate the test and examination results achieved by pupils and ask schools to check (and if necessary amend) the information held centrally by the Department. This relieves schools of the burden of providing all the information direct, while enabling verification that our data and calculations are correct prior to publication.
§ Mr. Miliband
[holding answer 4 May 2004]: The methodology used by the Department for producing school VA results has been arrived at after a long process of development. This was initiated by the "National Value added project" commissioned by SCAA (a forerunner of QCA) which reported in 1997. The project, carried out by leading academics at Durham university, showed that it was valid to measure school value added using progress between Key Stage tests and public examination results.
The findings of this project were used to develop a detailed methodology for the Autumn Package, which has been used by schools for self-improvement from 1998 onwards, and then piloted for the Performance Tables with a sample of schools within each key stage. As part of each stale of piloting, there was an extensive 1591W evaluation process including discussing both methodological and practical issues with the pilot schools. This showed that that the methodology was broadly understood arid accepted as valid by schools. There followed a full consultation exercise, before rolling out publication of a key stage to all schools.
At an early stage in this process the methodology was discussed at a meeting of the Education subgroup of the Royal Statistical Society.
In producing the value added measures each year, the underlying pupil data on prior and current attainment is provided to schools for checking, to ensure that all results are accurate and have been matched correctly.