Monday, 21 July 2008

Children could face even more tests in Year Seven

The Daily Mail reports that more than half a million children may have to resit English and maths tests next term amid claims that the SATs system is on the brink of collapse. Secondary teachers are expected to give new arrivals from primary school a series of fresh tests because the SATs marking fiasco has shattered confidence in the reliability of results.

The revelation came with talks already under way to sever the five-year, £165million contract with the U.S. testing firm ETS. Ministers are refusing to say publicly that the company will be sacked because they are anxious to avoid the spectacle of taxpayers having to compensate it for breaking its contract early. But the axing of ETS (Educational Testing Service) is seen as crucial to restoring confidence in the SATs system.

The SATs results were supposed to be issued on July 8, but last night some were still being marked by an emergency panel being put up by ETS at a hotel near Manchester Airport. The work is expected to continue into tomorrow.

As senior MPs called for schools and pupils to be given compensation, it emerged that 800 schools have already lodged appeals against results. Thousands more - one in four overall - are expected to request a review before the deadline passes.

Next year, ministers may have to rely on class teachers to mark SATs, ending 13 years of externally-marked tests. This is because the Government has only months to run a complex tendering process to replace ETS.

Meanwhile more secondary schools are preparing to run their own tests for 11-year-olds, as some already do. They need accurate results to determine which classes and ability sets the newcomers should be placed in.

Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary heads, said they were concerned the tests were no longer a reliable reflection of pupils' ability. He believes almost every school will use extra testing this autumn, affecting morethan 500,000 children.

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