Rogue marker threatens SATs tests

molesworth17:42 Tuesday 10th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The Department of Education says it’s urgently investigating the online leak of a SATs test which has been taken today by 600,000 children aged ten and eleven in England. A source at the Department suggested to the BBC that primary school tests are being sabotaged by opponents of the Government’s reforms. The source blamed a rogue marker for the latest leak. Julie McCulloch is from the Association of School and College Leaders.
JULIE MCCULLOCH: We think it’s absolutely crucial that children are assessed, and that schools are held to account. We have serious concerns about the way that the SATs have changed this year. They have become significantly harder. Also what they’re actually assessing has changed, and that we think is probably the crucial thing to look at. Are they actually assessing the skills and the knowledge that children most need to succeed at secondary school and in their lives beyond, and we’re not convinced that they are.
CHRIS MANN: This is the second time in three weeks that a test paper has been published online. The answers to a spelling punctuation and grammar test had been mistakenly uploaded by the test supplier Pearson onto a password-protected website for test markers. The Schools Minister Nick Gibb told MPs an individual with access to the site then tried to leak them to a journalist, but it appeared they had not become public.
NICK GIBB: It is essential that people in positions of trust can be relied upon to act appropriately. Unfortunately in this case it appears that one person did not, and they leaked the Key Stage 2 English grammar punctuation and spelling test to a journalist.
CHRIS MANN: Labour have called the accidental publishing of a SATs paper online ‘a debacle’. Anne Heavey from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers thinks the latest problems are further evidence of a system in chaos.
ANNE HEAVEY: If you implement these tests properly, there won’t be the opportunity for these leaks, for these accidental uploading of materials. So it’s further evidence that the Government has rushed these reforms, has not thought through their plans for implementing them, and now has completely undermined their own test.
CHRIS MANN: Laura McInerney is Editor of Schools Week.
LAURA MCINERNEY: This already happened with the tests for six year olds. In that case the Government accidentally published the test itself a few months early. And so they decided a few weeks ago to cancel the tests for six year olds, or at least say schools didn’t have to sit it. The Government has decided today that everyone will still sit this test. I guess they think that the risk of anyone seeing the test was quite low.
CHRIS MANN: This is the third test problem so far this year. A previous test for seven year olds was ditched when questions were accidentally published online.