Assessment fears widely shared

12th December 1997 at 00:00
Not being an English teacher, I cannot comment on Edward Poyner's observations on the details of the Higher Still English proposals (November 21), but his concerns about the demands of assessment on both candidates and teachers are widely shared by his colleagues across most, if not all, subjects.

Currently candidates can pass most exams, even if they perform poorly in one component, by making up the marks in the other components. The requirement that they pass all three units internally is likely to debar a significant number of candidates who hitherto would have passed at Higher, thus reducing the numbers achieving Higher awards and narrowing rather than widening educational and career opportunities. Have the political implications and impact on the wider community been considered of a significant reduction in the number of awards at Higher?

The suggestion that candidates need only have passed two units internally in order to sit the external exam is welcome but not the addendum that they would subsequently have to pass the third unit. It seems an unnecessary hurdle for a candidate who has already passed two units internally and performed satisfactorily in the external exam.

If it is objected that the same standards must apply to Higher and Intermediate levels, I can see no reason why the same rules could not apply to both, that is. that candidates would have to pass at least two of the internal assessments before being allowed to sit the external exam at the appropriate level with no requirement to subsequently re-sit in order to gain the award if they passed the exam.

DUNCAN TOMS Bearsden Academy East Dunbartonshire

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