Go to Main Website

Education - Marking fiasco


ETS Europe, the private company which turned this year's SATs tests into a fiasco, has been sacked. The US-owned company, which had a five-year £156 million contract to mark the tests for 11- and 14-year olds, has apparently agreed to pay back £19.5 million of the first year's fee.

It has since emerged that ETS already had form in this area, having previously caused similar mayhem in the United States with teacher exam marking.

Thousands of children still have not had their results, and many schools which did eventually receive back marked scripts late last term found no mark sheets collating the results, so had to employ temps to enable them to do it themselves. In many cases, the quality of marking was appalling.

Experienced markers told stories of organisational chaos, with students being drafted in to help out (this is against the rules). There will be many appeals (cost £6.50 per script) to add to the considerable costs of the mess to schools.

A new contract will be put out to tender in September, but existing experienced exam boards are not likely to rush. Two of the big three refused to bid last time, and the other one, Edexcel, argued against the tests at a parliamentary enquiry.

Even Ofsted's Chief Inspector has now spoken out against the tests.