Clearly, ETS have made a hash of their contract for the national tests, and should not be able to keep it in the future. Of course, the government cannot say so as Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary demanded on Today this morning, but there must be no question of their ineptitude being rewarded. But, what then? The answer is certainly not, as the more excitable teaching union leaders mught wish, to scrap external marking for national tests. Particularly at 11 - but also at 14 - they are a vital progress check not just for pupils but for teachers, and it is extraordinary that anyone could believe that the only check on literacy and numeracy standards on primary schools should be done by the schools and teachers themselves.
There are, however, serious issues about the future of the tests which go beyond the immediate question of the ETS incompetence. The first is whether the current plan for progress tests - where pupils sit 'level tests' that can only be passed to that level - should continue, and whether a simpler form of flexibility might not make more sense? Plenty of schools enter their pupils for Key Stage 3 tests at 13 rather than 14. Why not encourage the same flexibility in primaries where they want it, but keep the existing tests. The system would simply find it too hard to deal with the currently planned progress tests.
And there may also be a need for a more fundamental look at the content of the English and Maths tests, in particular, to ensure they are testing what we need to test, and giving secondary schools the information they need (too many feel the need to use the London reading test to supplement key stage tests). But above all - as this blog has argued before - we need to be clear that testing is here to stay, because of its importance to accountability and pupil progress. On that, there should be no compromise.