Thursday, 17 July 2008

Heads call for abolition of SATs

The Daily Mail reports that around one in four schools in England are still waiting for SAT results as pressure grows on the government to sack the US company responsible for marking millions of school test papers.

Adding the government's woes teachers' leaders are refusing to accept results blighted by a marking fiasco.

Furious heads demanded the abolition of the testing regime and associated league tables and prepared to lodge appeals against this year's results in unprecedented numbers. They claimed the system was 'collapsing in on itself' as more evidence emerged of delayed results, erratic marking, missing papers, unqualified markers and administrative chaos.

Thousands of primary and secondary schools have yet to receive a full set of results after major logistical problems and computer glitches.

There were calls for an inquiry into the shambles to determine whether the results should stand or be annulled.

They came as the Conservatives demanded the sacking of ETS, the U.S. firm awarded a £165 million five-year contract to run the testing system in 2006.

It was claimed yesterday that ETS instructed examiners to spend just ten minutes marking essay-based English scripts. With a growing backlog of unmarked exams threatening to delay results, one examiner said they were told to check 45 English papers in seven-and-a-half hours. Results in tests for 11 and 14-year-olds were meant to be issued on July 8 but officials admitted four days beforehand they would be delayed by a week.

But days after the second deadline, some schools are reporting whole batches of scripts missing and pupils inexplicably marked as absent despite taking the tests.

Ministers have already admitted more than 120,000 teenagers will have to wait until next term to get their English results.

But while the initial concerns focused on delays in getting results to pupils, schools have since reported apparent inconsistencies in marking. This is thought to be linked to systems brought in by ETS to check markers are examining properly according to the marks scheme. It has been claimed markers were allowed to continue examining this year despite registering more errors than usual. It is also said the new online system for checking the accuracy of markers is less effective because it does not require them to demonstrate their accuracy on the actual scripts they have been assigned to mark.

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