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Security tightened on test papers

Teachers have been barred from seeing the papers and the mark schemes in advance of this year's national curriculum tests, to steer them away from "over-enthusiastic" coaching, writes Nicholas Pyke.

The security measures were among a series of changes to the tests for 7, 11 and 14-year-olds announced this week by the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority. This is the first year that the tests for 11-year-olds will be published as national tables, a source of anger for many teachers.

Officials said that some schools appeared to have used the mark schemes to guide pupils towards the correct answers.

Some of next week's tests will be more rigorous. Seven-year-olds will need to actually read one or two words to get the most basic, level 1, score in reading. Last year, they were asked only to "recognise that print carries meaning" and that it is read from left to right.

Some parents of seven-year-olds will be able to see their child's achievement against a national scale. Schools will be given an optional comprehension test which, if administered, will let them rank pupils on a scale from 85 to 115, with 100 as the average score.

SCAA is hoping to avoid confusion in mathematics by grouping all the calculator-free questions in one paper. Calculators will only be allowed in a second exam.

The tests cover English and maths for seven-year-olds, and English, maths and science for 11 and 14-year-olds. They will be sat by 1.8 million children in England at a total cost of Pounds 27 million.

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