Test marking to be checked

26th May 1995 at 01:00
Marked scripts from the national tests for 11-year-olds will be scrutinised by teachers when external markers send them back to schools in four weeks' time. But inspectors and advisers fear teachers will have little time to check the marking before the end of term.

This is the first year external markers have been appointed to mark the national tests for 11 and 14-year-olds - a Government concession in return for an end to two years of teacher boycotts.

But many teachers are still unhappy with the idea and the form of the short pencil-and-paper tests, and with the relatively low status accorded to teacher assessment.

Rose Collinson, Kent's lead consultant for assessment and exams, said: "When the marking comes back to the school the teachers will go through the papers. They will be the most marked scripts ever. It is the only set of external examinations where they get the scripts back. The external marking agencies will have to get it accurate in terms of numbers and interpretation, but there is not as much experience of interpreting 11-year-olds' responses. It is wait-and-see time."

She said some teachers were asking why national test papers could be returned, but not GCSE scripts.

But there were no signs in Kent, or in other counties contacted by The TES of any potential disruptive action through appeals against bad marking. Some members of the National Association for the Teaching of English are expected to launch a series of appeals at the end of June although NATE's policy is against disruption.

David Hanson, senior assessment adviser for Wiltshire, said that even though time was against scrutinising the marked papers, he was "sure" teachers would do it.

And David Bartlett, Birmingham's co-ordinator for assessment, said: "Teachers will not have the chance to go through every script but . . . they might want to look at some borderline children." Mr Bartlett, like many assessment officers, was concerned about the less able pupils who had struggled in the tests because the papers had not been very "accessible".

The solution is not clear-cut. "Tiering" the papers into easier and harder tests would mean teachers would have to choose which pupils should sit which papers.

Terry Piggott, chief inspector for Kirklees, favoured the Scottish system which lets pupils sit tests when they are ready. Mr Bartlett floated the idea of an easier first paper taken by all pupils followed by a second for those who coped with the first.

Inspectors and advisers also reported complaints about the maths papers being too hard, with a significant number of children becoming distressed.

* TimePlan Education Group, the company which provides supply teachers in Greater London, had to turn away 78 requests for cover in the week beginning May 8 and 69 in the following test week.

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