Higher art has serious problems

22nd September 2000 at 01:00
With reference to your article (Higher Art Exhibition, September 8) I would like to bring some matters to your attention.

The standard of work and variety of approaches are no different to what was happening for a number of years with Revised Higher. There is nothing new on display that would somehow show teachers the standards expected under Higher Still.

However, what concerned me was the tone of the article. It suggested that everything is rosy with Higher art and design and that this exhibition is simply a display of good work.

On the contrary, there are many problems with the assessment of art and design and this is evident in the grades given to some of the work on display. I and other principal teachers, who all have experience as markers, are of the opinion that some of the grades were very generous. Our experience this year shows thatmarking has been inconsistent. We all have many pupils who failed Higher or achieved lower grades than expected compared with estimates, yet work was on a par with that in the exhibition.

In Dumfries and Galloway almost every art and design department has issues with the assessment of the 2000 exams and the feeling is that this is due to inadequate marking and poor quality control within SQA.

Perhaps a more interesting story would be found in the broad inconsistencies in SQA assessment and why this has happened.

Teachers know the standards required - perhaps SQA is out of touch with the delivery of courses in real schools. Certainly, their awards this year have resulted in many young people feeling concerned that their grades do not reflect their abilities.

VA Donnelly

Principal teacher of art and design, Dumfries Academy

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