'High risks' of further problems with test marking

02 Jan 2009

 In one of his last acts as the government's curriculum and assessment advisor, Dr Ken Boston, warned the government that the risks of late delivery in the 2009 test marking process are 'high'. 

The warning comes in an exchange of letters between the Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, and Dr Boston. The letters are available on the QCA website. http://www.qca.org.uk/qca_15838.aspx

   Writing just before he resigned following the problems with the late delivery of the 2008 test results, Dr Boston says the risks will come particularly during the period between the tests being taken in May and the results being published on July 7th.

 In response, Ed Balls says he understands the concerns about further problems in 2009 and has asked for a further update by the end of January.

 It has also emerged that Edexcel was the only serious bidder for the 2009 test marking contract and will receive just over £25 million for the one-year contract for marking just the tests at age 11.  This contrasts with the  £31 million a year the American company, ETS, received for marking BOTH sets of tests, at 11 and 14. A pro rata rate for just the tests at 11 would have been £15 million a year.

Interestingly, the Edexcel contract requires 99.9% of results to be delivered on time, not 100%. With 600,000 11 year-olds taking several million test papers between them across English, Maths and Science, even 0.1% of late results would potentially affect 100s, even 1000s, of pupils.   

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