Teenagers employed to mark SAT papers in Britain

July 17th, 2008 - 2:41 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 17 (IANS) The fate of British students who took this year’s Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is in jeopardy with revelations that teenagers who themselves are yet to pass their examinations have been employed to mark the answer papers. Barry Sheerman, the Labour chairman of the Commons Schools Committee, has disclosed that he had been given evidence that the company entrusted with the marking of SAT answer sheets was employing pre-university students to mark papers, the Telegraph reported Thursday.

Head teachers have reported serious problems in the marking of test papers for 11-year-olds and 13-year-olds across Britain. Thousands of test results have been delayed and some teachers who have seen their children’s results have reported basic marking mistakes, including errors in adding up total marks awarded.

The marking is being done by Educational Testing Services (ETS), a US-based company. Some senior markers have refused to work for ETS in protest at its methods, sparking fears that the firm has resorted to employing under-qualified marking staff.

Sheerman said he had been told that ETS had hired “not graduates, but people who have recently passed their A-levels, to mark papers”.

A source close to the Schools Committee later confirmed that some of the marking staff used by ETS were schoolchildren who sat for A-levels earlier this summer and have not yet had received their own results.

Ofqual, the regulator of qualifications and exams, Wednesday announced it will hold an inquiry into the way ETS has run the SATs marking.

It was revealed that examiners awarded a higher score to a child who had written an essay full of mistakes than to a student who had made far fewer errors. The composition littered with spelling mistakes, poor punctuation and shoddy grammar received one mark more than the work of a child at the same Lancashire school who produced an impressively literate, coherent and imaginative piece of writing.

It was also revealed that thousands of pupils may have wrongly been awarded no marks at all after they were incorrectly recorded as having been absent for their tests.

At least 20 schools have reported unusually high numbers of absences in test results, according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

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