Thrown to the ground, paralysed

My daughter is one of thousands who finishes her school year today with a letter of apology from her headteacher instead of her SATs results.

From The Times:
The prospect of mass appeals over the Standard Assessment Tests (Sats) for 1.2m 11-and 14-year-olds has grown as concern switches from scripts delayed and lost to the accuracy of the marking itself……
James Elliott, head teacher at Talbot combined school in Poole, Dorset, said: “When some of our papers did finally arrive last week, the maths papers had been returned totally unmarked. Secondary schools use these tests as the basis of their class groupings. It’s very hard on the kids to be left in limbo like this.”
Other evidence has included marks added up wrongly and “totally implausible” differences in reading and writing scores given to the same pupil……
The quangocrat at the centre of the testing fiasco is one of Britain’s highest-paid civil servants. Ken Boston, lured from Australia six years ago to sort out an earlier exam debacle, receives £328,000 in salary and perks. The package, greater than that paid to Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, jumped 15% from 2006-7 to 2007-8.

From another article in The Times (illustrations at the Times site):
An 11-year-old child who had performed much better than a classmate in the Key Stage 2 English test was marked lower.
Child A wrote about Pip Davenport, a fairground inventor: “If he wasent doing enthing els heel help his uncle Herry at the funfair during the day. And had stoody at nigh on other thing he did was invent new rides.
“Becoues he invented a lot of new rides he won a prize. He didn’t live with his mum he lived with his wife.” This received one mark more than Child B who wrote: “Quickly, it became apparent that Pip was a fantastic rider: a complete natural. But it was his love of horses that led to a tragic accident. An accident that would change his life forever.
“At the age of 7, he was training for a local competition when his horse, Mandy, swerved sideways unexpectedly, throwing Pip on to the ground, paralysed.”

I am not happy about this state of affairs.

8 thoughts on “Thrown to the ground, paralysed

  1. I want to know what happened to Pip B!
    Somebody give that child a book deal immediately.

  2. Exactly, Euan! Unfortunately, nobody can, because s/he got such a bad grade that s/he gave up reading in disgust.
    Incidentally, in a strange piece of internet zeitgeist, you were commenting here simultaneously with me commenting on your Nascent post about BMC comments.

  3. Maxine, like most parents, I share your concerns about the exam system. It is a complete shambles, like a number of our other institutions at present.

  4. Both my Year 9 daughter’s grammar school and Year 6 son’s island primary school have publicly denounced the SATS system in general and this year’s results in particular (the Head of the latter quite forcefully on BBC 1’s Panorama a couple of months ago). Both schools are treating the results as a beyond a joke and a total waste of staff and pupil stress and valuable teaching time. Both will be forced, of course, to publish them, and will be graded in the league tables accordingly. But, internally, pupils and parents have been advised to ignore them utterly.
    Nice salary package for Mr Boston! Lucky chap. No doubt if he gets the push, he’ll have an enviable pay-off as well. Super.

  5. Neither am I. It’s a shambles and a joke. It’s time to return a social-engineering experiment to common sense. Way overdue…

  6. How infuriating for you and your daughter, and for tens of thousands of other schoolkids.
    I have to say, this is not the first fiasco involving tests administered by ETS. Two years ago, several containers-worth of Advanced Placement exams went missing. I mean boxcar-size containers of AP exams. Truckloads of tests. They were tests sent for marking from both U.S. high schools and from international schools in the Far East, Israel, and the UK, including — you guessed it — my sons’ high school. (For those who don’t know about AP classes, they’re designed to be university-level courses. Depending on the grades kids achieve on the year-end AP exams, they may be given college credit for their work, or become eligible for scholarships and grants.)
    My sons’ exams were never found. To “make up” for the debacle, my kids were offered two options: (1) retake the exams for free, when they were next offered, or (2) accept a “predicted” exam score — estimated from mock exams they’d taken halfway through the school year — in place of the lost tests.
    Well, the next time the AP exams were offered wasn’t for twelve months. My older son had graduated from high school and was heading for college. My kids took the predicted scores, even though they were based on practice tests they’d taken when still struggling with the material and with the exam format.
    My sons, and thousands of other kids worldwide, had worked their butts off for an entire school year to learn the material and take these exams. What happened was an outrage.

  7. That’s a terrible story, Meg. But I can well believe it. There are so many examples of poorly administered marking. When I was a student I did O (as it then was) and A level marking over the summers to earn money, and there were plenty of checks and balances in place. We were paid peanuts, also! But nowadays, many of these must have gone out of the window in favour of computerised systems.
    Frank: they will all have to wait until next term now (September) because the schools have broken up for the holidays. What value to attach to the marks when they do arrive, though?

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