Understanding Kelly;Letter;News amp; Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
IT WAS with some disappointment that I read Graham Milne's letter, "Off target on SVS" (TESS, November 12). He seems to think I was criticising social and vocational studies as a subject in my article on October 22. I was not.

Mr Milne's panegyric to the virtues of SVS was, in itself, perfectly unobjectionable he will know more about the SVS course content and its educative value than most of us. However, his attempt to found the value of SVS on examination statistics was misguided and revealed a want of understanding of the so-called Kelly factors.

He avers "these factors . . . are applied and used to 'even up' the difficulty differences found" among Standard grades.

Is Mr Milne seriously suggesting the Scottish Qualifications Authority have abandoned grade related criteria as the basis for Standard grade assessment?

Does he really believe that there are no differences among subjects in national attain-ment figures? Stuff and nonsense.

The audit unit makes it very clear that Kelly factors are calculated after grades have been assigned to pupils. They cannot and should not have any retrospective influence on results. As to SVS being "easy" (perhaps the word "accessible" would have been less inflammatory) the Kelly factors for this subject over the last few years show that pupils score around one grade better in this subject than in their other Standard grades, on average.

If Mr Milne needs further convincing I challenge him to find one school in Scotland where the school rating for SVS is negative.

I reiterate - to say a subject is easy is not a comment on the educative value of that subject. Mr Milne himself applauds the joint accessibility and value of SVS in the special education sector. I rest my case.

Eric Gillies

Depute rector

Whitburn Academy

West Lothian

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