"But critics say that there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that examinations are now easier than they were in
the 70s and 80s.
It comes as the Government prepares to publish the results of tests taken by children aged 11 tomorrow.
Dr Coe analysed the standards achieved by students at A-level and GCSE.
He then compared them with the outcome of aptitude tests - which measure pupils' skills in a range of subjects without testing curriculum knowledge – over the last two decades.
This provides a consistent measure of ability from year to year against which grades can be compared, it is claimed.
At GCSE, Dr Coe found there was an increase of about a third of a grade between 1996 and 1998 for pupils of the same ability.
Since 2004 a rise of a further fifth of a grade.
At A-level a candidate given an F in maths 1998 would, on average, get a C in 2005."
As the education system appears to be failing by every statistic other than exam results we should be suspicious about how reliable those exam results are. This research for the Office for National Statistics suggests that exam results cannot be trusted as a measure of educational performance.
However, it isn't just aptitude tests which show failure in the education system. From the TaxPayers' Alliance Better Government paper:
- 11 year-olds: 25% leave primary school without sufficient ability in reading and writing to tackle the secondary school curriculum.
- 14 year-olds: almost 30% do not reach the expected levels in English, Maths and Science to tackle GCSEs.
- 16 year-olds: almost 60% do not achieve a GCSE grade C or better in all the three core subjects of English, Maths and Science.
After 11 years of state education at a cost of over £75,000 per child, pupils are leaving school functionally illiterate, innumerate and unskilled:
- 40% do not achieve at least a C grade in GCSE English.
- Some seven million adults in England cannot locate the page number for plumbers in an alphabetical index to the Yellow Pages.
- 47% would be unable to achieve a grade G at GCSE maths.
- The OECD finds that Britain has the second highest level of low-skilled 25-34 year olds in the 30 countries of the OECD – twice the level of Germany or the USA.
In fact it will be increasingly hard for the country to operate effectively,
when at present:
- The average attainment of prospective teachers entering a B.Ed course is less than three grade Cs at GCE A-level.
- 52% of would-be prison officers failed a simple literacy and numeracy test.
- 33% of nurses completing their training failed to achieve the 60% pass rate in basic English and Maths tests, despite having GCSEs in these subjects.
Typical questions for the nurses included:
How many minutes are there in half an hour?
a 15 b 20 c 30 d 45
Which of the following times is the same as 8pm?
a 1800hrs b 1900hrs c 2000hrs d 2100hrs
What is the correct decimal nomination for six hundred and fifty pence?
a 605p b £6.50 c £65.0 d £6.05