Infants' tests 'unreliable'

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NATIONAL tests for 7-year-olds have produced unreliable results because of enormous variations in the ways they were carried out, according to research published today, writes Fran Abrams.

Some pupils were given more help than others, researchers at Bristol University found. One teacher rubbed out a boy's incorrect answer because she felt he could do better; another gave her whole class full marks for a science question because faulty equipment made it impossible to judge properly.

The team, which studied 150 teachers and 250 pupils between 1989 and 1992, said the teachers were not trying to fudge the results but were trying to shield pupils from formal tests in which they might be branded as failures.