Education - qualifications and assessment review: consultation

We are consulting on the options for change as part of Professor Hayward's independent review of the future of qualifications and assessment. We are inviting responses to this consultation by 16 December 2022.

3. Considering how we gather evidence on achievements, award and qualifications

3.1 Topic: Exams and other forms of assessment

Background: The qualifications available for learners to undertake in the senior phase provide a variety of learning and assessment experiences including different learner pathways and have been designed specifically to support the aspirations of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

The majority of senior phase qualifications are internally assessed and provide flexible approaches to assessment including opportunities for interdisciplinary learning for example, National 1 to National 4 Courses (SCQF 1 to 4), Awards (SCQF 1-7), Skills for Work Courses (SCQF 3 to 6), National Certificates (SCQF 2 – 6), National Progression Awards (SCQF 2 – 6) and the Scottish Baccalaureate (SCQF 7). National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses (SCQF 5 – 7) are largely externally assessed and pre-COVID had been designed to have a balance of coursework and examinations. This was intended to provide opportunities for depth, breadth and personalisation and choice in learning as appropriate to the subject area.

However, regarding national qualifications, we have heard many calls for there to be a ‘better balance’ between exams and other forms of assessment. We have heard the view that often subject based senior phase qualifications rely too heavily on end of year exams. In some countries teacher assessment counts for a significant proportion of a learner's grade. Professor Gordon Stobart’s 2021 report includes discussion of how other countries approach a balance between external and internal assessment. Professor Stobart also noted that in comparative terms, Scottish upper-secondary school students are ‘more frequently’ examined than those in other jurisdictions, i.e., in S4, S5 and S6.

Question 4: Please share your thoughts on what a ‘better balanced’ assessment system would look like. As well as considering the balance between external examination and internal assessment you may also wish to comment on the frequency of examinations.



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