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Tuesday, 12 December, 2000, 12:51 GMT
International check for A-levels
Exam room
A-level results have continued to improve
The standards of A-levels is to be monitored by an international panel.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, the government's qualifications watchdog, says this will help to guarantee that improvements in exam results are not because A-levels are getting easier.

There have been claims that A-levels were being "dumbed down" and that larger numbers of pupils scoring the top grades reflected a lowering of standards.

Exam authorities have always rejected these accusations and say that the international panel will provide external verification of how exams are set and assessed.

'Independent view'

"A-levels enjoy an international reputation for excellence and rigour. As the number of students taking A-levels rises year by year it is essential that the standard is seen to be maintained over time," said the QCA's chief executive, David Hargreaves.

"The panel I have announced today is of unquestionable authority and will provide an independent view of the way all our quality assurance programmes operate."

The members of the international panel, which will meet for the first time in February 2001 and report later next year, will be:

    Eva L Baker, co-director of the US National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing
    Barry McGraw, deputy director for education at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, based in Paris, France
    Professor Sir Stewart Sutherland, principal and vice chancellor, University of Edinburgh.
See also:

07 Sep 00 | Correspondents
A-level changes 'cost 350 per pupil'
10 Mar 00 | Unions 2000
A-level 'gold standard' assured
04 Oct 99 | Education
A levels under fire
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