As part of the exam modernisation programme, the National Assessment Agency (NAA) has commissioned PriceWaterhouseCoopers to complete a financial model of the English examination system. The report estimated that the cost of running the examination system in 2003-04 was £610m, which includes the £370m cost of running the organisations involved in the exam system and £240m of staff time in delivering exam activities.
The scope of this model included the cost of most examinations in England such as GCSEs, AS and A-Levels, Key stage tests (primary and secondary), Key and Basic skills tests, BTEC, GNVQs, AEAs and FSMQs as well as individuals who enroll independently to do exams. David Gee, Acting Managing Director of the NAA, explained that the estimated costs also considered the substantial investment in valuable change that awarding bodies and NAA are currently directed towards.”Significant benefits have been realised since the report was prepared, with markers and examiners receiving better pay,” Gee indicated. “Over 3000 exam officers receiving training in good practice, schools have received information about invigilation and 40 regional field officers were recruited to visit schools and colleges to ensure that exam officers have the best possible support.”
Improvements in logistics are also being carried out for a more secured transportation of candidates scripts from the school to the Examiner. Nevertheless, the report did demonstrate that there is still scope for improvements in the processes used, especially in the dispatch of materials and accessibility of updated information.
Gee pledged that NAA will continue to work with schools, colleges and awarding bodies to ensure that the examination system is fit for the 21st century. The NAA, launched in April 2004, is a subsidiary body of the QCA to develop and deliver national curriculum tests and supervise the delivery and modernisation of GCSE and A level examinations.
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