Standards Over Time in Mathematics 2001, 2006, 2009

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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.

Reports
The first results were available in 2001 and covered the years 2001 and 1995 for the following qualifications; GCSE mathematics and A-level Mathematics.

In 2006, a further report was published in mathematics covering GCSE 1999-2004 and A level 1998-2004.

Finally, in 2009, a report was published on standards in A level mathematics in 2004 and 2007.

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