SATS marking fiasco - a marker's experience

16 Jul 2008

 I enjoyed your article on the SATS fiasco and many of the points were familiar to me. I am a KS2 Science marker. One point I wanted to make was that the system worked pretty well in previous years.Perhaps a little refining would have helped , but the changes this year meant that "shambles" was built in from the start.
Firstly most markers did not see the papers before the training day.We usually spend some hours working out which questions will need attention and which are straightforward. This- and the fact that training  groups were  three or four times as big as previously- meant that much time was wasted on the day.
Secondly the failure to send scripts straight to markers was a critical error. Markers need to begin marking straight away to make best use of the training.To deliver after the half term break meant real pressure for serving teachers. I have several colleagues who- after the training- never received scripts to mark
As to the much vaunted "benchmarking" exercises. When marking time has been compressed, I am sure that tiredness is a major source of errors. To add an hour's work each time  you have marked 80 scripts seems designed to create stress. By the way the feedback took days to come back, and relied on you remembering what you had written days before.I know markers who marked the papers and then completed the last two or three benchmarking exercises.
I am sure you will have many e mails from markers. I would like to make one final point.Because we did no "threshold " checking this year, I would anticipate that many more schools than usual would appeal.This could mean that we are still a long way from completing the exercise and could well be discussing this in the Autumn.
RD (full name withheld)

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