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Specimen exam papers ready to post

While the SQA has been rushing out its internal assessment material, it has also been busy producing support for external assessment.

Specimen papers and project exemplification will show teachers and lecturers the performance required to achieve grades at the various exam levels.

The material will be issued later this month for existing Higher courses, in line with the timetable for the internal assessment materials. This is a relatively straightforward exercise for the Higher and Advanced Higher, which are generally benchmarked against the existing Higher and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies.

In November, the SQA will issue exemplars for the external exams at Intermediate 1 and 2. "This should provide key information for principal teachers who will then be able to see the difference between the levels, " Neil MacGowan says.

Teachers might be forgiven for assuming that all this hive of activity must inevitably lead to more assessment.

But Mr MacGowan comments: "It is not more assessment but more consistent assessment. For the first time, the NAB packs will set standards for internal assessment.

We mustn't assess people into the ground. "But I believe that, under Higher Still, pupils should be better prepared when they sit the final exam because they will have been assessed in class and completed each learning outcome before they progress.

"That in turn should also make estimating performance easier and lead to a vast improvement on the present system where if you fail a Higher in fifth year, you repeat it in sixth year.

"Finally, the Access and Intermediate units and courses should also help stretch youngsters without destroying them."

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