Assessment is for everyone

Following recent discussion in The TES Scotland about special examination arrangements, it may be helpful to set out the Scottish Qualifications Authority's position.

SQA must ensure that assessment is rigorous and fair and allows candidates to demonstrate skills and knowledge. A key priority is that any alternative assessment approach used must be appropriate to what is being assessed, ie the candidates are given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability against the national standards.

We must also ensure fairness to all while maintaining national standards, including candidates with disabilities andor learning difficulties. That's why we have developed adjustments to our examinations which centres can invoke to allow these candidates to demonstrate their skills and abilities to their fullest. Our new publication, Guidance on Assessment Arrangements for Candidates with Disabilities andor Additional Support Needs, provides information about these arrangements.

This guide provides advice when considering adjustment requests and states the principles involved. Its approach starts with the candidate's assessment need, and not with the disability.

It emphasises that assessment plans should be considered subject by subject with no assumption that the same kind or level of support will be required in every case. The guide provides advice on how best to manage identifying, validating and meeting these assessment needs. It also suggests a model for managing arrangements to ensure effective internal quality assurance.

We are aware that the process of requesting alternative arrangements must, given the increase in these requests, be as quick and simple as possible.

We also recognise that the needs of each candidate are individual and that further adjustments, not detailed in our documentation, may be required. In these cases we agree suitable alternative arrangements with centres that do not compromise the integrity of the qualification.

Integrity is further maintained by the introduction of quality assurance measures which require schools and colleges to retain evidence which supports their particular requests for individual candidates.

I hope that this provides reassurance that we do our utmost to support all candidates (and their schoolscolleges) while maintaining the integrity of our awards.

Tom Drake Director of operations and quality assuranceScottish Qualifications Authority

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