Wednesday, July 23, 2008

News; Schools Hunting 'Missing' Papers

Schools in England are trying to track down national curriculum test papers mislaid by the Sats contractor, ETS.

Some have been sent back to the wrong school, but promises that they will be retrieved have not been kept.

Some schools continue to have pupils marked "absent" in the ETS database even though they took the tests.

Conversely the BBC has heard from one that has been allocated marks for two pupils who genuinely were absent.

• The Priory School in Southsea, Hampshire, was unhappy about the consistency of Key Stage 3 English marking. In preparing papers for appeals, staff realised the list of results for the writing test, published by the National Assessment Agency, included scores for two pupils who had not taken it, and who had been recorded as being absent from the room.

Officials are investigating.

• Rose Green Junior School in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, was trying to locate 30 missing English test scripts when it was contacted by Whiteways Junior School in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, which had been sent them.

The National Assessment Agency was told on 15 July and promised to arrange for them to be picked up the same day. The papers were still in Sheffield on 23 July.

• Some schools are invoicing ETS for the time spent dealing with problems with the tests. The head of a large primary in Manchester has sent a bill for £350 with a letter "setting out the more obvious costs in supply cover and admin time in trying to sort this fiasco out".

• Reports continue to come in of missing scripts and questionable marking.

Ian Kendal, head of St Joseph's Catholic primary in Hertford, Hertfordshire, said: "Our Science scripts have not yet been marked. The National Assessment Agency has informed the school that the scripts are not lost; they just don't know where they are!"

Phil Thomas, head of Wey Valley School and Sports College in Weymouth, Dorset, said: "We received the results in a print out four hours before the end of term. This format meant that staff had to retype the data into computers for us to start the analysis.

"Fortunately, the papers arrived the day before so unusual marks cold be investigated. 39 'borderline' level 5 papers have been returned after pages of answers have received no marks and the standard of marking is extremely variable."

• Schools had complained about the deadline for submitting appeals - that is, requests for marking to be reviewed. It had been extended from 18 July to 10 September, but it was pointed out that this was only two days into the new term in some areas.

So it has been further altered to "10 days after the start of their term, or after receipt of both scripts and results, whichever is the later".

Figures published on Tuesday showed that about one in five primary schools still lacked results and almost a quarter of English results for 14-year-olds were missing.

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said parents felt very let down

"Most feel this has been a total let down. Their kids have been through all this stress, and the parents have been through it too.

"To hear the secretary of state on the radio, when challenged, not going to take responsibility and say it is a matter for the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) and ETS is not right.

"What's making it even worse is that now all the ministers have gone off on their 11-week summer holidays and parents are at home with children who still haven't got their results."

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