Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Fiasco, fiasco, fiasco

I have never heard the word 'fiasco' used as much as in the last few weeks whilst the awful treatment of our pupils and their test papers is big in the news. But, I can't really think of a better word for the situation.

The Daily Mail reports that a senior MP claimed teenagers straight out of school are marking papers. Barry Sheerman told ministers he had evidence 'people who have recently passed their A-levels' were hired to mark English, maths and science scripts.

Most primary schools received their results yesterday, and head teachers have already noted concern over discrepancies in assessment.

Mr Sheerman, chairman of the Commons schools committee, made the revelation as Children's Secretary Ed Balls admitted that at least 120,000 pupils will not get all their SATs results by the end of term. But he refused to apologise, despite accepting that he carries ultimate responsibility for national testing. At a meeting of the schools committee yesterday, Mr Sheerman told Mr Balls he was aware that ETS had hired 'not graduates, but people who have recently passed their A-levels, to mark papers'. He believed the marking had taken place in the Nottinghamshire area and involved Key Stage Three tests for 14-year-olds. He said he had raised the issue on Tuesday with Ofqual head Kathleen Tattersall. 'They were astonished when I produced a piece of evidence which I know to be true,' said Mr Sheerman. 'An agency hired a graduate to mark science, maths and English papers. He was the most experienced member of the team.'
It also included non-graduates, he said. Rules state that markers should be either trained teachers or on training programmes.

ETS admitted an agency had been used to help source markers, and said that it is investigating the allegation that untrained staff have been assessing papers.

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