Spanish exam errors infuriate teachers

JO MOIR
Last updated 12:46 23/11/2013

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Errors have been found in three NCEA papers in the first two weeks of the exam season.

Markers for the level 3 Spanish exam have been told to accept a range of answers after complaints from teachers about discrepancies in the translations of the English and Spanish questions.

Members of the Spanish Teachers' Association reported the problem to the Qualifications Authority, which administers the exams. There were also concerns that music played during one translation question obscured the spoken words.

The complaints follow others that the NCEA level 1 German paper was written entirely in German, apart from the instructions. Students were told the questions would be in English and, in some cases, the 450 students sitting the exam were left trying to decipher words they had never been taught.

NZQA has also revealed two conflicting rates of interest appeared in the resource booklet provided for the level 3 accounting exam.

Deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said the marking process would make sure no student was disadvantaged by the mistakes.

Markers had been briefed about the Spanish exam and would accept a range of answers "to take account of any ambiguities in the questions arising from the translation".

The questions for the exam were written in both languages by bilingual teachers, and checks were done, he said.

"Nevertheless, the English was sufficiently different from the Spanish to allow more than one interpretation, and the assessment schedule has been modified to accommodate this."

The Spanish exam was on November 12, and so far marking had shown students' answers were not affected by the music during the translation question, he said.

Exams finish on December 3 and NZQA has said it will deal with any other issues as they arise.

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