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ASSESSMENT AND QUALIFICATIONS AT 16 Scottish Reforms since the 1980s Louise Hayward and Ernie Spencer University of Glasgow.

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Presentation on theme: "ASSESSMENT AND QUALIFICATIONS AT 16 Scottish Reforms since the 1980s Louise Hayward and Ernie Spencer University of Glasgow."— Presentation transcript:

1 ASSESSMENT AND QUALIFICATIONS AT 16 Scottish Reforms since the 1980s Louise Hayward and Ernie Spencer University of Glasgow

2 Thank you for the invitation Outline of reflections An overview of systems and developments in Scotland in the contexts of: Scotland's curriculum changes and and their relationship to qualifications Managing a system designed for Scotland but different from rest of UK not able to conceive of an alternative how else to align vision, curriculum and assessment Implications for schools, teachers, students and policy decision makers

3 Overview S4 (age 16)S5S6 Before 1980sOrdinary (O) Grade (Originally c. 30% of pupils; later %) Higher (H) Grade (Key qualification for entry to 4-yr degree in a Scottish university) Higher (H) Grade Certificate of 6 th Year Studies (CSYS) Late 1980s – 2000 Standard Grade Development Standard (S) Grade (All pupils) Foundation General Credit Higher (H) Grade Certificate of 6 th Year Studies 2000 – 2014 “Higher Still” National Qualifications S grade as above OR Access 1, 2, 3 Intermediate 1, 2 Intermediate 1. 2 Higher (H) Grade Higher Grade Advanced Higher Grade From 2014 New National Qualifications(CfE) National 3, 4 (internal assessment) National 5 (external) National 4, 5 Higher National 5 Higher Advanced Higher

4 Overview Standard Grade and Higher Still Purposes, intentions, nature of assessment Benefits Issues and problems New Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) National Qualifications Will they work better? Common Pattern Vision Curriculum and Assessment Action Progress towards vision Problems of Alignment New Vision

5 Standard Grade - vision Issue - social justice - curriculum and assessment for all Curriculum Munn Report (Scottish Education Department, 1977) Curriculum derived from society’s claims, theory of knowledge (notably Hirst, 1969) and pupils’ psychology and needs 4 key aims for all pupils Knowledge/understanding of self and social and physical environment Cognitive, personal and psycho-motor skills Affective development in a wide range of attitudes Preparation for adult life and social competence

6 Standard Grade Modes and Courses approach: “balance, choice and flexibility” Subject elements –identified key knowledge/processes (including significant emphasis on application, problem-solving, practical and oral work, finding and using subject-relevant info...) “The quality of learning, the teaching process and the development of skills are more important than the quality of factual content required for recall.” (SGROAG, 1986) –Influenced pedagogy as well as giving basis for reporting achievements –Eg, English: reading, writing, talking (including listening) Geography: knowledge and understanding, enquiry skills Differentiated courses to meet different needs/levels of challenge: Foundation - worthwhile experiences for pupils of modest achievement General - majority of pupils able to have high level of achievement Credit - nature and rate of study better related to Higher Teachers planning of courses (typically comprising “units”) based on course elements, validated through LA arrangements

7 Standard Grade Assessment (Dunning Report, SED 1977, and reinforced in Munn) Curriculum/assessment indissolubly linked, “Assessment as Part of Teaching” central to strategy; teachers’ professional judgement and discussion with pupils central; not be frequent summative assessment or exam practice tasks; All working groups of researchers, policy makers and practitioners Grade-related Criteria (GRC): statements of what should be learned and touchstones for assessment – developed by subject working groups who planned curriculum Influence of Pupils in Profile project/report (SCRE, 1977), which emphasised the importance of teachers’ knowledge of individual pupils in describing what they know and can do Certification Descriptive – grades represent summary descriptions of achievements Exemplification provided by Exam Board (eventually) Teacher assessment

8 Standard Grade - route to misalignment Overly complex Teacher assessment: estimated grades for each element based on wide range of work submitted to exam board (SEB 19 point scale) Workload rather than learning focus leading to oversimplification –Original internal/external weighting (Dunning) only partially implemented in trial stages of S Grade (Foundation level only): major concerns among teachers re workload and complexity of assessment –Courses written for rather than by teachers (at their request)

9 Standard Grade Benefits (see Simpson, 2006) Significant advancement of professional knowledge and expertise through involvement of teachers in subject working groups, making internal and external assessment tasks and examination marking By comparison with O Grade, very much better courses and experiences, in particular for lower attaining pupils Significantly improved exam tasks, better reflecting desired learning Methods developed by SEB to incorporate criterion referencing in processes of marking/grading/standardisation/ensuring reliability (though to different extents in different subjects: eg, much more direct use of GRC in English than maths) Qualifications for a much bigger proportion of each cohort and across a wider range of subjects (Raffe, 2003) Some reduction in gender and social class differences through obligatory access for all to worthwhile broad curriculum – girls came to attain more S Grade awards than boys, including at Credit; low attainment of working class pupils raised considerably (yet gap low/high attainers, eg in PISA, still significant by comparison with some countries)

10 “Higher Still” National Qualifications Issue - social justice - curriculum and assessment for all Context Part of gradual social justice movement in Scottish education (comprehensive schools, raising of school leaving age, S Grade, development of FE Action Plan (SED, 1983) Concern about “2-term dash” to H Grade in S5 plus S6 problems re Higher Gold Standard Academic and Vocational Parity of Esteem Perception of unco-ordinated, inadequate upper school provision for both higher and lower attainers Howie Committee (1990) to review courses, assessment and certification for S5/S6

11 “Higher Still” National Qualifications Howie Report (SOED, 1992) Wide consultation and study of several European systems Opposed to modularisation as fragmenting and trivialising learning and leading to over-assessment and assessment-driven learning “European Solution” Twin track ( transfer between tracks): –ScotCert – academic subjects, core skills and vocational elements; 60% of cohort; up to 2 years; –ScotBac –; mainly academic; 40% of cohort; up to 3 years; standards in individual subjects going well beyond H Grade level Consultation on Howie 2 clear outcomes Need for change Decisive rejection of twin track approach

12 “Higher Still” National Qualifications Higher Still: Opportunity for All (Scottish Office, 1994) Single system of levels for academic and vocational qualifications: merger of SEB and SCOTVEC as SQA (1996) 7 levels of National Qualifications (Access 1, 2, 3, Intermediate 1, 2, Higher, Advanced Higher) – unified “climbing frame” aiming to give opportunities for progress to all Continuing use of criterion-referencing/GRC at all levels SCOTVEC and SEB assessment arrangements combined: 40 hour modules/units, internally assessed (ungraded) + external exam (graded) covering (typically) 160-hour course consisting of 3 units + 40 hours course integration and exam preparation – NOT a combination of internal and external assessment: two separate hurdles, both of which must be cleared About 50% of external Intermediate exams have some coursework element No consultation/debate on assessment and reporting principles and practicalities – apparent influence of “merger politics” the main determining factor?

13 “Higher Still” the route to misalignment Overly complex, political timeframe and workload focus Significant increase in internal assessment demand on both pupils and teachers ; National Assessment Bank (NAB) unit tests (huge initial task; no process of trialling/validating or updating/ expanding the bank) – led to much teacher/union dissatisfaction Problems facing SQA : not enough markers; more limited processes of validation and reliability across markers; major admin difficulties linking individual info on pupils’ internal unit awards with external exam performance → public disaster with first NQs (2000): failure to deliver results to thousands of pupils (See Paterson 2000 and Raffe et al 2002) Review leading to oversimplification Access 3, Intermediate 1 and 2 available in parallel with S Grade Foundation, General and Credit Many schools/LAs chose to use these NQ qualifications because they were seen as providing clear, easily managed progression steps (one year per level)

14 “Higher Still” National Qualifications Benefits (mainly derived from Simpson, 2006, and Raffe, 2003) Increased full-time participation in S5/6 at appropriate levels by pupils with middle and low S Grade/Intermediate achievements (further extending gradually increasing participation over many years) Increased total volume of SQA qualifications achieved; improved performance in passing 3 Highers (extending continuous improvement since 1987); however, pupils attaining middle and lower S Grade or Intermediate results still lag behind similar pupils in many countries Success of pupils with learning difficulties in mainstream curriculum and qualifications system (typically at Access 1, 2, 3 and sometimes Int 1)

15 New National Qualifications from 2014 Vision - the educated Scot Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment as one - “Capacities” (successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens, effective contributors) Breadth, depth, challenge, application Learning from curricular areas, interdisciplinary work, ethos/life of school, opportunities (in and out of school) for personal achievement Assessment for learning throughout Literacy and numeracy the responsibility of all teachers Promotion of teacher professionalism and responsibility in course design, pedagogy and assessment

16 New National Qualifications from 2014 Less prescription and more personalisation and choice in the qualifications Added Value Assessments (often projects in aspects of the course selected by students) At National 5, more coursework contributing to the final grade (so exams should be shorter) Fundamental features and characteristics of the Higher and Advanced Higher Courses preserved and revised to reflect CfE ideas New Units in Literacy and Numeracy (originally meant to be taught/assessed in cross-curricular contexts, but in fact now embedded in English/Gàidhlig and maths courses)

17 New National Qualifications from 2014 National 4/5 Assessment (H and AH to follow for 2015, 2016) National 4 3 internally assessed units + internal Added Value Unit (typically a self- selected project) National 5 3 internally assessed units + external Added Value Unit (either exam or project work submitted to SQA) Information available at

18 New National Qualifications from 2014 Three packages of assessment support for Units (National 2 to National 5) Each pack provides details of an assessment task or tasks; shows approaches to generating evidence; and shows how the evidence that is gathered can be judged against the Unit Outcomes and Assessment Standards –Unit-by-Unit approach – the Unit assessment support is for each Unit in a Course. Normally it will cover all of the Outcomes and Assessment Standards. –Combined approach – this supports the use of a combined approach to assessment which can be a very effective approach to gathering evidence for assessment across a number of Units of a Course. –Portfolio approach – this supports a portfolio approach to assessment by providing information on judging evidence for assessment normally covering all Outcomes and Assessment Standards for all the Units in a Course. The packs do not have marks or threshold/cut-off scores; they have an explanation of how assessment judgements are to be made against Assessment Standards. Specimen Question Papers (National 5) Examples of the types and scope of questions that will be used in the exam. Marking Instructions (outline the marking principles for the exam show how the questions in the specimen paper should be marked)

19 New National Qualifications from 2014 Will these arrangements promote the kinds of learning CfE hopes to develop? Will they give teachers enough professional support to develop assessment skills? Do they change significantly enough the disadvantageous aspects of Higher Still? What is the “worst case scenario”? How easy will it be for LAs/schools/teachers to predict assessment requirements and continue to “teach to the test”? Can anything be done to avoid this ? - the alignment of research, policy and practice - the Assessment at Transition Project

20 Abbreviations NAB – National Assessment Bank (for Higher Still Qualifications) SCOTVEC – Scottish Vocational Education Council SCRE – Scottish Council for Research in Education SEB – Scottish Examination Board SED – Scottish Education Department SGROAG – Standard Grade Review of Assessment Report SOED – Scottish Office Education Department SQA – Scottish Qualifications Authority

21 References Hayward, L., Boyd, B., MacBride, G. and Spencer, E., Just making them think: a tension between teaching and assessment in the high stakes stages. Glasgow. Scottish Qualifications Authority (Research Report 13.). Available: Hirst, P., The Logic of the Curriculum, Journal of Curriculum Studies, Vol 1, No 2, pp Paterson, L., The Exam Debacle and the Way Ahead for Scottish Education. Edinburgh, Mainstream Publishing. Raffe, D., Howieson, C. and Tinklin, T., The Scottish educational crisis of 2000: an analysis of the policy process of unification, Journal of Educational Policy, Vol 17, No 2, pp Raffe, D., CES Findings on Participation and Attainment Scottish Education, in Scottish Education (2 nd edition): Post-devolution, Eds Bryce, T. G. K. and Humes, W. Edinburgh; Edinburgh University Press. Scottish Council for Research in Education, Pupils in Profile: Making the Most of Teachers’ Knowledge of Pupils. Edinburgh, Hodder and Stoughton. Scottish Education Department, 1977 a. The Structure of the Curriculum in the Third and Fourth Years of Secondary Education in Scotland (Munn Report). Edinburgh, HMSO. Scottish Education Department, 1977 b. Assessment for All: Report of the Committee to Review Assessment in the Third and Fourth Years of Secondary Education in Scotland (Dunning Report). Edinburgh, HMSO. Scottish Education Department, s in Scotland: an Action Plan. Edinburgh, HMSO. Scottish Office Education Department, Upper Secondary Education in Scotland: Report of the Committee to Review Curriculum and Examinations in the Fifth and Sixth Years of Secondary Education in Scotland (Howie Report). Edinburgh, HMSO. Scottish Office, Higher Still: Opportunity for All. Edinburgh, The Stationery Office. Simpson, M., Assessment. Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press (Policy and Practice in Education series). Standard Grade Review of Assessment Group (SGROAG), Assessment in Standard Grade Courses: Proposals for Simplification. Edinburgh, Scottish Education Department.


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