‘Massive’ error in the National Success Rates Tables

The National Success Rate Tables (NSRT) for 2010/11 will need to be republished after significant errors were identified.

More than 23 per cent of all qualifications are showing an ‘unknown’ level, up from just 2 per cent in the earlier Qualification Success Rate (QSR) report (see table below).

Members of the College Management Information Systems (CMIS) network say the “massive” anomalies include BTEC qualifications and Access to HE courses. Values also vary for similar qualifications from different awarding bodies.

One example given is a Diploma in Complementary Therapies (QCF) from City & Guilds, displayed as a level 3, while the equivalent qualification from VTCT is an ‘unknown’ level.

Comparisons to the 2010/11 QSR reports show a difference of 672,123 ‘unknown’ starts across all age groups and providers.

Our investigation into this issue has determined that there is an error and we have therefore removed the reports temporarily.”

The number of ‘unknown’ starts has also risen from 8,777 in the QSR to 546,295 in the NSRT for learners of all ages in general FE colleges.

Jerry White, head of planning and performance at City College Norwich, told FE Week: “The 2010/11 tables provide national averages (benchmarks) which clearly differ from those published within the 2010/11 Qualification Success Rate reports.

“As these national averages play a major role in college self-assessment and the judgements made on our performance by bodies such as Ofsted, it is vital that there is accuracy and reliability in this national performance data.

“I would hope that the Data Service would explain why there has been a variance and make the corrections necessary to produce a definitive, reliable dataset against which providers can measure themselves.”

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA), on behalf of the Data Service, has since told FE Week the NSRT has been removed and will be re-published within the next two weeks.

“The NSRTs that were published on May 24 had an unusually high number of unknown notional levels in the ‘other’ qualification type category,” said an SFA spokesperson.

“Our investigation into this issue has determined that there is an error and we have therefore removed the reports temporarily.

“The revised reports, with details on the revision, are expected to be available by mid-June.”

The retraction differs drastically from the Service’s original response last month.

“Unfortunately this is due to the classification in the LARA tables,” it said then.

“You are correct that this is an issue. Unfortunately the 2010/11 tables cannot be changed, but measures are in place to address this so this will not happen in the 2011/12 tables.”