The key union demand could now focus on a phasing in of Higher subjects. The Government has said that only existing Higher courses need be replaced next August.
A growing number of EIS members are said to believe that subjects could be offered in the existing Higher and Higher Still versions. The same approach was taken when Standard grade operated alongside O grade.
Neil MacGowan, Higher Still co-ordinator at the Scottish Qualifications Authority, said this would be "technically feasible". But it would also be messy and confusing. "It has never been thought about, talked about or costed," Mr MacGowan said.
Existing Higher papers will survive until 2000 for resits and for students taking two years to sit the current exam.