Exam boards refuse to mark school SATs

Two of the country's biggest exam boards have made it clear they are ruling out taking over the marking of national curriculum tests next year, placing a major question mark over the delivery of next year's results.

Both the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), the biggest exam board in the country, and the Oxford and Cambridge and Royal Society of Art board (OCR), have bluntly said they will refuse to take on the marking of the tests for pupils aged 11 and 14.

This follows the fiasco this year which has led to thousands of children still waiting to receive their results a month after the deadline for completing the marking.

The third of the "big three" exam boards, Edexcel, has given no indication as to whether it would bid for the contract. It bid last time but was unsuccessful.

The decision by the exam boards poses a dilemma for the Government and its national curriculum watchdog, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

Negotiations are continuing between the QCA and the US-based firm charged with administering and marking this year's results – ETS Europe – over its five-year, £156m contract to deliver the results.

A clause in the contract for the tests paves the way for the firm to pay "tens of millions of pounds" in compensation for late delivery of results, Ken Boston, chief executive of the QCA, has told MPs.

However, the prospect of cancelling the contract altogether has been raised during the talks. A refusal by UK exam boards to take over the contract – thought to have been prompted by fears that it was "undeliverable" – leaves ministers with few alternatives for next year's tests. They either have to stick with ETS Europe in the hope that its performance will improve or go back to a system whereby their own civil servants take responsibility for the tests. Dr Boston has already indicated that the deadline for delivering next year's test results for 14-year-olds will be relaxed.

Meanwhile, the emphasis next week will shift to A-level results, due on Thursday and expected to show a slight rise (0.2 or 0.3 percentage points) in the pass rate for the 26th year in succession, pushing it beyond 97 per cent for the first time.

A bigger rise is expected in the percentage of scripts awarded an A-grade pass – pushing it up from 25.3 per cent to about 26 per cent (also a record high). Last year was the first time that more than one in four scripts was awarded an A grade.

Boys are expected to reduce the gap in performance overall between them and girls from the current level of 1.3 percentage points. However, the gap in performance at A-grade level (2.6 per cent) is expected to continue or even widen. About 250,000 students are awaiting A-level results.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss