research scientist at the Educational Testing Service’s Center for Assessment, Innovation, and Technology Transfer; and John Behrens, senior manager of assessment development and innovation at Cisco Systems.


Noting that QCA is the government body responsible for the U.K.’s curricula, standards, examinations, and assessments for all students ages 5– 16, Martin Ripley spoke in particular about the national curriculum’s “Key Stage 3,” which covers students in grades 7–9 (ages 11–14). He said that while the testing of these students in the subjects of English, mathematics, and science has been compulsory since 1994, the agency plans to add four new statutory tests—in ICT—in 2008. These tests are high stakes, Ripley said. “The results are published on a school-by-school basis by the national government, and because they are made available to every parent and every school governor in the country, these results are used for school accountability purposes.”

The ICT curriculum for Key Stage 3, he said, has four basic components:

  1. Finding things out—a student’s ability to select an appropriate source and assess the value of the information thus obtained.

  2. Developing ideas and making things happen—for example, using ICT to measure, record, respond to, and control events.

  3. Exchanging and sharing information—using ICT for such purposes as Web publishing or video conferencing.

  4. Reviewing, modifying, and evaluating work as it progresses.

QCA has set increasingly stringent standards, ranging from level 1 to level 8, on what students are expected to achieve as they progress through their schooling. Ripley said that a 13-year-old should be achieving level 5, which includes such abilities as creating sequences of instructions to control events and exploring the effects of changing the variables in ICT models, among numerous other skills.

Ripley described the elements of testing that ascertain whether or not the curriculum is yielding student performance at the desired standard levels. Tests are designed, he said, to articulate nine ICT capabilities:

  1. Searching and selecting—“an aspect of finding things out.”

  2. Organizing and structuring—“using systemic approaches to find-

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