Complaints about marking of English tests soar

25th July 2003 at 01:00
THE number of primary schools whose English test papers are being investigated for mistakes in marking has increased fivefold from last year.

There are 166 schools whose appeals are being dealt with as a group review. A Qualifications and Curriculum Authority representative said a group review was one where there is a consistent pattern of errors made that requires further investigation.

At key stage 3, a total of 529 secondaries, more than one in 10, have asked for group re-marks of this year's controversial tests.

Last year 30 primary schools and 455 secondary schools had group reviews.

The figures do not include requests for re-marks of individual papers.

The English tests and mark schemes for all key stages were altered this year. The mark scheme now involves assessing pupils' work against criteria such as sentence structure and punctuation, before totting up the marks to arrive at a level.

In the primary writing test pupils had to make up a story about a boy queuing for a game and then compose a radio advert. It was criticised by children's laureate Michael Morpurgo as "bland".

One South Gloucestershire primary head, who asked not to be named, said:

"Last year I did not send back anything, this year I am sending back half of the writing papers.

"Other schools I've spoken to have exactly the same issue."

A QCA statement said that 166 primary schools represented less than 1 per cent of all the schools which sat the tests, and added that the number of schools where appeals meant a change in results could be much lower.

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