Russell gives go-ahead to assessment resource
The development of online support materials for the new National 4 and 5 qualifications was given the green light by Education Secretary Michael Russell, days before the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament.
The National Assessment Resource (NAR) has built up 138 examples of assessment resources for pupils up to Level 4 since it was launched last September. Now support materials will be made available for pupils sitting the new qualifications from 2013-14.
The news was greeted with some surprise by the education convener of the EIS teachers' union, Larry Flanagan, who sits on the Curriculum for Excellence management board. He wondered how there could be exemplification of assessment for qualifications which were themselves not yet ready.
"The SQA is nowhere near identifying any of that material," said Mr Flanagan.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority published draft "course rationales and summaries" for the National 4 and 5 qualifications in January, and more detailed specifications will be published between April this year and next.
Alan Taylor, the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association spokesman on Curriculum for Excellence, said teachers wanted the resource bank to provide examples of standardised tests which would allow them to understand the levels their pupils were working at, rather than being left to exercise their professional judgment when they did not understand what was expected at each level.
Mr Flanagan conceded there was frustration from some teachers that the assessment examples had been slow to appear, although most recognised the NAR was "a work in progress".
The NAR, which is run by a joint partnership of Learning and Teaching Scotland, the SQA and the Scottish Government, differs from previous assessment banks in that the materials are produced by "real teachers in real classrooms", said one official.
Resources which are deemed to cover most of the assessment criteria to a very high standard are given a quality mark.
One exemplar of the new assessment resources, which has received the "Q" mark for high quality, was produced by the Glasgow Gaelic School. It assesses whether pupils have learnt to use language, style, layout and presentation in a way which engages the reader.
The materials were developed by P7 teacher Patricia Macleod and her P5 colleague Sarah Macphee.
Mrs Macleod's pupils created a Gaelic poster advertising their St Andrew's Day ceilidh, to fulfil the target of using language and style to engage their readers.
They studied the language of advertising, looking at magazines, posters and websites, albeit in English.
Some early examples of the pupils' posters had either too little or too much information - but they were asked to get feedback from their parents, some of whom speak no Gaelic. This proved a good way of involving parents in schoolwork, and also gave pupils experience of a new form of assessment, said Mrs Macleod.