Standards Over Time in the Sciences - GCSE and A levels 1995 - 2007

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This resource is a compilation of reports by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and Ofqual reviewing standards over time in science subjects at GCSE and A levels.

Context
Annually the publication of GCSE and A level examination results prompts public interest in the standards of those examinations. In 1996, Lord Dearing in his Review of Qualifications for 16–19 Year Olds made several recommendations to ensure that ‘there is a basis and accepted procedure ... for monitoring and safeguarding standards over time’. Also in 1996, the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA), one of the predecessors of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), jointly investigated standards in English, mathematics and science (chemistry) in 16+ and 18+ public examinations over time.

The outcomes of this work were published in Standards in Public Examinations 1975 to 1995. One of the recommendations of this report was that there should be ‘... a rolling programme of reviews on a five-year cycle to ensure examination demands and grade standards are being maintained in all major subjects.

The five-yearly review of standards programme was a response to these recommendations. It was run by QCA in collaboration with the regulatory authorities for Wales and Northern Ireland, ACCAC and CCEA, and was designed to investigate the standards in A level and GCSE examinations.

It aimed to find out if:
*the demand of syllabuses and their assessment instruments had changed over the last 20 years (examination demand);
*the level of performance required of candidates at grade boundaries had changed over the last 20 years (grade standard).

Organised to run in five-year cycles, it was intended that the programme covered every major subject during its first cycle.

Components
*Chemistry GCSE - Five year review of standards 1995 - 2001 (2001)
*Physics GCSE - Five year review of standards 1995 - 2001 (2001)
*Biology A-level - Five year review of standards 1995 - 2001 (2001)
*Chemistry A-level - Five year review of standards 1995 - 2001 (2001)
*Science GCSE (Double Award) - Review of standards 1995 - 2000 (2004)
*Biology Review of standards GCSE 1998 - 2003, A-level 1999 - 2003 (2005)
*Chemistry Review of standards GCSE 1998 - 2003, A-level 1999 - 2003 (2005)
*Physics Review of standards GCSE 1997 - 2002, A-level 1996 - 2001 (2005)
*Science GCSE (Double Award) - Review of standards 2000-2005 (2007)
*Physics Review of standards GCSE 2002 - 2007, A-level 2001-2007 (2009)

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