Kent Test Results 2017 - Raw and Standardised Scores

The request was partially successful.

Dear Kent County Council,

I would be grateful if you would please supply the following information/full test data in an Excel on ALL the children who sat the Kent test this year (i.e. 15,000+):

- Case Number (i.e. 1-15,900 etc)
- LA
- DFE
- Current School Name
- Kent Test Results
- Successful HTA
- Maths - standardised score
- Maths - raw score
- English - standardised score
- English - raw score
- Reasoning - standardised score
- Reasoning - raw score
- Total - standardised score
- Total - raw score
- Pupil Premium
- Time of test (AM/PM)

Yours faithfully,

A Sonnac

Kent County Council

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Thank you for your email below.

 

Kent County Council acknowledges your request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Assuming KCC holds this information, we
will endeavour to supply the data to you as soon as possible but no later
than 9th November 2017 (20 working days from date of receipt).

 

We will advise you as soon as possible if we do not hold this information
or if there are exemptions to be considered and/or any costs for providing
the information. Please quote our reference - FOI/17/1736 - in any
communication regarding this particular request.

 

Best regards,

 

 

Kirsty-Leigh Robertson| Information Access Officer | Information
Resilience & Transparency Team | Room 2.71, Sessions House, Maidstone |
Phone 03000 418301 | Fax 03000 420303 |
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council...
|

 

Dear Kirsty-Leigh

Many thanks for your response and look forward to receiving the excel/data by tomorrow as stated.

Regards

A Sonnac

Kent County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Thank you for your request for information made under the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) 2000, relating to the Kent Test.

 

I am pleased to provide the attached spreadsheet in answer to your
request.

 

Within your request you have asked for the raw scores. I can confirm that
Kent County Council (KCC) holds the requested information; however KCC is
unable to disclose the information to you because it is considered
commercially sensitive under section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000.

 

KCC’s provider of the Kent Test and scoring is GL Assessment Limited
(GLA). It is one of several providers of the 11+ nationally. All of the
providers are commercial organisations in competition with each other for
the contracts to supply 11+ tests to schools and local authorities.
Section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies if a
disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests
of any person or organisation. A commercial interest relates to a person’s
ability to participate competitively in a commercial activity, i.e. the
purchase and sale of goods or services. It is KCC’s view and that of GLA’s
that the disclosure of the requested information would prejudice GLA’s
commercial interests. This is due to the following reasons:

• The requested information varies from child to child based on
standardisation so the only way of answering such a request is to release
the standardisation table. GLA’s method of calculating the standardised
scores is part of its core intellectual property. If this is made public
and hence available to its competitors, it would destroy GLA’s commercial
advantage.

 

• GLA expends a lot of effort trying to preserve the integrity of its
tests. This is done by carefully guarding the contents of tests and how
they are constructed and assessed. A large part of the reason for this is
to try and keep the tests as tutor-proof as possible. A tutor’s job is
made far easier the more information that is released on how tests are
constructed and assessed. If the requested information was disclosed, it
would allow a tutor to try and work out the standardisation method, which
would allow more targeted tutoring. All local authorities are concerned
about the levels of tutoring and how this can lead to a situation where
there is not a level playing field. GLA therefore has to try and stop
disclosure to try and keep tests as tutor-proof as possible - to not do so
would damage its commercial advantage as its tests would not be as
attractive to existing and potential customers.

 

Typically the testing begins in the morning and is completed by around
lunchtime.

 

If you are unhappy with this response, and believe KCC has not complied
with legislation, please ask for a review by following our complaints
process; details can be found at this link
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council...
on our website. Please quote reference FOI/17/1736.

 

If you still remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you can
appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees compliance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Details of what you need to do, should
you wish to pursue this course of action, are available from the
Information Commissioner’s website [2]http://www.ico.org.uk/concerns.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Kirsty-Leigh Robertson| Information Access Officer | Information
Resilience & Transparency Team | Room 2.71, Sessions House, Maidstone |
Phone 03000 418301 | Fax 03000 420303 |
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council...
|

 

show quoted sections

James Coombs left an annotation ()

Thank you for posting your request for information via this website so that the request itself is in the public domain.
For s43(2) to be properly engaged the council must demonstrate, not simply that the information relates to a commercial activity but also that its release ‘would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests’ of GLA. Secondly, as s43 is a qualified exemption, they need to conduct a public interest test.

The question as to whether raw marks from 11-plus may benefit tutors has previously been put to the courts on two occasions which I summarise here.
In Reading School v Information Commissioner, EA/2013/0227 (http://informationrights.decisions.tribu...) the appellant, Reading School, claimed (§32) that, “Tutors would be able to calculate the number of questions for each specific skill being tested and work out a ‘pass rate’ which would unfairly advantage their clients and disadvantage others;” The Tribunal rejected this unanimously (§33). In their opinion, “The number of questions was of course known by all candidates who sat the test and the ‘pass score’ is in any case communicated to the parents of all applicants. It is unclear how the ‘pass rate’ could be calculated, and, even if it could, how that could unfairly advantage the clients of tutors. … the School neither explained how the Disputed Information, on its own, would enable others to gain an unfair advantage nor supported with any credible evidence its assertions as to the way in which that was likely to cause it commercial harm.”
The 11-plus testing market acts as an oligopoly of just two providers, GLA and CEM. In James Coombs v Information Commissioner, EA/2015/0226 the court concluded (§20) that s.43(2) was correctly engaged because CEM profit commercially by virtue of being the only test company providing ‘tutor-proof’ tests. This is described in the ruling (16 times) at its Unique Selling Point or USP. http://informationrights.decisions.tribu... CEM provided the Information Commissioner and tribunal with an explanation as to how they alleged raw marks could be used by tutors but this was given in strict confidence making it impossible for anyone to independently challenge the veracity of their claim. Judge Hamilton, presiding over the case, described their explanation as “highly technical and incomprehensible to anyone without a qualification in statistics.” (§27) The two lay members of the panel concluded that the question of whether or not raw marks could assist tutors was not actually relevant; it was sufficient for CEM to demonstrate that they were commercially profiting from claiming to be the only test company able to provide ‘tutor-proof’ 11-plus tests. It is not possible for CEM to UNIQUELY provide 'tutor-proof' tests and GLA to also provide them, thus KCC's decision here is directly at odds with the court ruling. The education secretary Nick Clegg is on record as describing ‘tutor proof’ tests as a 'holy grail' thus presenting another possibility that both CEM and GLA are actually making false claims about their tests in order to prevent disclosure. https://www.theguardian.com/education/20...

Notwithstanding KCC’s decision being at odds with two previous Tribunal rulings, their refusal notice does not comply with s.17(3)(b) of the FOIA. S.43 is a qualified exemption, meaning any authority wishing to rely on it must conduct a public interest test. The Information Commissioner provides the following guidance, “In carrying out the public interest test, the authority should consider the arguments in favour of disclosing the information and those in favour of maintaining the exemption. The authority should try to do this objectively, recognising that there are always arguments to be made on both sides.“ (https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio... §20).
The council appear to have overlooked all of the arguments in favour of disclosure which would include;
• The general public interest in public authorities being transparent in their decision making and in this particular case transparency over whether the allocation of school places is based on sound decision making.
• There is a desirable public policy encapsulated in FOIA of openness and accountability in the public sector generally for its spending decisions.
• Disclosure would enable an objective assessment of the operation of a test that is used in selection within the education system.
• The public interest in uncovering potentially unsafe practices.
• The public interest in challenging false claims by test providers to be able to provide ‘tutor proof’ tests.
• The Schools Admissions Code states that ‘Parents should be able to look at a set of arrangements and understand easily how places for that school will be allocated’.

In light of the above, I would suggest you ask the council to review their decision to withhold the raw marks. This is very easy to request via this website. For some alternative suggestions as to why authorities might want the raw test marks to remain undisclosed, check out this five minute film, https://youtu.be/vgAbFZPyRJs

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