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Anxiety over assessment is baseless, says CfE chief

There is "no sea change in assessment," according to one of the pivotal figures charged with ensuring Curriculum for Excellence gets to the starting block.

In a robust defence of the assessment plans, which have angered secondary heads and were one of the factors leading to the downfall of Fiona Hyslop as Education Secretary, David Cameron described the discussions on the subject as "worrying".

In this week's TESS, Mr Cameron, a member of the CfE management board, said: "There has been so much emphasis on assessment in recent years, particularly on Assessment is for Learning, that there should have been much less anxiety about it.

"There appears to have been a queue of people condemning the lack of detail in recent government statements. It makes one wonder whether the key tenets of Assessment is for Learning have really been grasped. Indeed, it calls into question whether the excellent assessment document, from the 5-14 programme, had ever been read."

Mr Cameron, past president of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland, suggested the CfE assessment approach did not differ from that for the 5-14 document, so there was no "sea change".

He added: "It is eminently possible to identify programmes of study, currently being used in schools, and translate them, with relatively minor changes, to match the demands of Curriculum for Excellence."

But Mr Cameron urged schools to get better at agreeing standards. "It is a huge concern that we still place far greater reliance on standardised tests than on the evidence and information provided by our colleagues.

"This is not to argue that there is no place for standardised assessment . What is worrying is that we have not built in greater reliability to our internal, formative assessments over 30 years after the Bullock report set that as a priority."

Curriculum for Excellence, he said, had taken that issue very seriously and set out "an unparalleled commitment to moderation".

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