New grading should be modelled on existing FE assessment

14th November 2008 at 00:00
The new qualification replacing Standard grade and Intermediates should be based on continuous internal assessment modelled on qualifications already used in the further education sector, says the Association of Scotland's Colleges, writes Elizabeth Buie

It cites the recent HMIE report on school-college partnerships as evidence that the college-learning experience is more suited to the needs of many 13 to 18 year-olds and to most adult learners.

Yet the expertise of colleges and the resources of other college-based qualifications has not been "mainstreamed" sufficiently in A Curriculum for Excellence, according to ASC. It focuses too much on secondary schools and universities rather than employers, employees, colleges, community learning and private providers of learning, the association says in its response to the Government's consultation on the "next generation" of qualifications. "The divide between knowledgetheory intense (academic) qualifications and skillsknowledge intense (vocational) qualifications has been the critical barrier preventing Scotland's education system being as successful as those in comparable countries, with a major negative carry-over effect into the economy."

The ASC advocates the creation of a "standardised confidence statement or testimonial" based on a common format or points system prepared by schools, colleges or learning providers for all students, not just those now using the UCAS admissions service system.

Grading all units in the new proposed qualification will not meet ACfE's overall aim of reducing the assessment burden, it argues, but is likely to increase it for the majority. "It is already a challenge to write units which adequately define the criteria for pass - the challenge of producing reliable criteria for three grades of pass should not be underestimated," says the ASC.

It opposes external tests for literacy and numeracy, but supports their accreditation. Rather than picking a stage to test literacy and numeracy, such as S3 or S4, it is "critical these qualifications are taken when a learner is ready for the particular level", it adds.

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