Cuts to internal assessment earn acceptance

The streamlining ordered in February will reduce the number of internally assessed learning outcomes from eight to six. Writing a report is to be optional within the writing outcome, and the piece of non-fiction analysis is not to be formally assessed.

But Stuart Holden of the Higher Still Development Unit concedes: "There is no hiding from the fact that there will be more internal assessment. The upside is that, instead of pupils sitting exams and failing, internal assessment provides evidence and gives confidence that pupils are being presented at the right level. If they sit Intermediate 1 they might even gain an A or a B, instead of a near pass at Higher which is no use to anybody."

Moira Reynolds at St Ninian's High says continuous assessment helps motivate less academic pupils by allowing them to take small steps and experiencing success. But she does not plan to assess each learning outcome after 40 hours. "Where units are integrated, we would report later although, of course, you could report earlier on progression," she says.

Principal teachers welcome the changes that have been made so far, both in reducing the number of learning outcomes and restructuring performance criteria to emphasise common skills.

One innovation they are not so happy with at Higher level is teaching and assessing talk. Fiona Norris of Eyemouth High would prefer a straight pass or fail, believing there will be major problems in standardising and moderating performance.

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