Saturday, 16 August 2008

ETS Europe has its contract ended

Good news - the firm responsible for this summer's national test marking "shambles", ETS Europe, has had its contract ended by exams watchdog the QCA.
The BBC reports that this is due to problems with the marking of the tests, taken by 1.2 million 11 and 14 year olds in England, delayed results and prompted concerns about quality. ETS is to pay back £19.5m and cancel invoices worth £4.6m. The total contract for 2008 was worth £39.6m. The QCA said the five-year £156m contract was ended by "mutual consent".

The National Assessment Agency (NAA) will handle the review process, while ETS Europe will continue to work on concluding this year's national test operations, and publish any outstanding results. There will be no further payments made to ETS.

Education Secretary Ed Balls said the tax payers' position had been safeguarded by the deal because two-thirds of the money spent on the contract was being returned. He told the BBC News website that the £15.5m ETS received for their work represented a loss to them and was smaller than the amount they had spent in the UK. The financial settlement reached means the government is able recover some of its costs, including those of re-tendering and re-marking.
The delivery of next year's tests would be carried out as a one-year contract, tendering for which would start in September, Mr Balls said. He said: "Let's put the national interest first and and get things sortred for next year so we do not see a repeat of the shambles that we have seen from ETS in recent weeks."

Schools Minister Jim Knight : 'I'm pleased the contract has been terminated'

QCA chief Ken Boston said: "ETS Europe was selected due to the strength of their worldwide experience in delivering large-scale assessments. It is disappointing that the issues with this year's national curriculum test results have meant that the partnership between QCA and ETS must end early."

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