Upgraded results for 20,000 after 'too harsh' marking

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The Independent Online
Almost 20,000 pupils have had their marks from this year's national curriculum tests in English upgraded after complaints that they were treated too harshly.

Schools all over the country have been told their 14-year-old pupils did better than the original marks indicated. A total of 900 schools had complained about the tests, 440 of which had demanded that all pupils' papers should be remarked.

Last night the controversial tests, which were boycotted by teachers for three years before the Government appointed the exam boards to mark them, were the subject of a dispute over what went wrong.

Officials at the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, which oversaw the tests, stressed that with 2,500 examiners marking them for the first time this year there were bound to be hitches. The exam boards, meanwhile, blamed mark schemes set by SCAA.

One in seven secondary schools had complained that their pupils' marks were wrong after receiving papers back for checking. One-fifth of the papers which were remarked were found to be wrong, leading to 3 per cent of the 640,000 pupils who took the tests in May receiving better grades. By comparison, just 0.1 per cent of science and mathematics papers had to be upgraded.

Exam officials have written to schools and promised to make changes to prevent a repetition of the problem next year.

David Hawker, assistant chief executive of the SCAA, said: "We are not complacent about the situation, but I still do not regard it as a fiasco. I regard it as a problem and we are doing what we can to sort it out."