Matt’s blog & kids let down by ETS

One of Rifa’s friends, Matt, is an IT guy in the Sussex area. I’ve not met him but he’s always been a fascinating blogger. However, he’s now started to address something in his life in detail that I think makes his blog absolutely essential reading. Over the last couple of years he was put on trial under serious charges, which he had nothing to do with – and his innocence was eventually proven. But of course, his whole life was turned upside down. He’s now addressing this experience in blog installments and I think he has a lot of importance to say about the rough end of the current British justice system. Read him HERE and I’ll stick him on my blogroll.

In other news, surprise surprise, ETS, the pathetic bunch of numpties hired to mark schoolkids’ SAT exams have utterly fucked up the job, leaving tens of thousands of children without their results. Teachers and experts had warned for months that the promise of delivering all the results by the 8th July deadline was unrealistic. But the company kept insisting they’d make it, until as late as 26th June, when they finally admitted they were a heap of shit behind. Now they’re even missing the back-up deadlines and the result is chaos.

They’d left 10,000 email enquiries from their own exam markers unanswered.

Interestingly, although the fuck-up is primarily the private company’s responsibility, the face shown on the BBC story here is of public regulator, QCA boss Ken Boston. Of course he bears a fat chunk of blame and needs a good smack in the chops – but where are the names and faces of the actual ETS bosses? Why do the bleedin’ corporate cowboys themselves get such an easy ride from the Beeb? 

One big mistake everyone is making in exam marking is the belief that on-screen marking is an improvement because theoretically it speeds things up. Any media sub editor will tell you (what you probably know instinctively anyway): you simply can’t read as carefully or as focusedly onscreen. It is standard practice in newspaper and mag offices that you do your final proof-reading and assessments on paper printouts, because you catch stuff you miss onscreen. And we all know reading anything onscreen over a period of time (like, um, thousands of the same exam) is far more tiring. Given how important these ludicrous exams have been rendered by our test-obsessed society, why on earth aren’t we thinking logically about marking them!?

Any sane government would take this opportunity: sack Ken Boston (with no fatcat payoff), cancel ETS’ contract (ideally without paying them – or at least make the fines decently large) and then get rid of the useless fucking SATs altogether. They’re not fit for purpose, make kids waste good education time preparing by rote for a bunch of inane questions and overhype the supposed value of test results. They border on evil, since kids get so pent up about them. Yet they don’t even assess individual children at all – just allow schools to compare themselves with eachother. Lunatic.

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3 responses to “Matt’s blog & kids let down by ETS

  1. Argh, I thought your blog was broken there Chris but you just added this post when I was refreshing! Interesting though, I didn’t know the exams were contracted to a corporate body. I’d never even heard of ETS! I have my own things to say about the British school examination system. Maybe I’ll blog about it; thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Hey Chris – it’s totally unrelated but wanted to point you in the direction of this: http://www.drhorrible.com/ if you weren’t already aware of it. It’s Joss Whedon’s new musical about superheroes and since I’ve seen tracks from the Buffy musical crop up in your DJ sets from time to time I figured you might be interested!

    Oh and David Simon (The Wire) has a new 7 part mini-series about the Iraq War called Generation Kill that started airing in the US a couple of days ago

  3. Deano, you’re a star – thank-you so much for the Generation Kill tip, I wouldn’t say I ‘enjoyed’ episode one but it’s a fckin outstanding bit of television. See blog above. xXx

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