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20 August 2014
Pupils sitting new qualifications were over-tested says report

Pupils sitting new qualifications were over-tested says report

The new school qualifications replacing the Standard Grade led to over-assessment of pupils, according to a post-mortem by Education Scotland.

“It is clear that in the past year there has been a significant and unsustainable level of over-assessment in many parts of the system” the working group set up by Education Secretary Mike Russell to reflect on the new qualification found.

The qualifications were a success overall, the report said, but pressures on teachers and the level of operation and verification procedures had resulted in “a higher level of assessment than was necessary or desirable.”

Local and national government should do more to support schools to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence, the report advised.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), which has been under fire for its handling of the implementation of the new exams, was advised to provide clearer and more accessible advice to teachers.

Russell has written to schools advising a need for change. “It is vital we learn from our experiences. The national education bodies are already taking steps to implement these recommendations and will continue to support teachers and schools throughout the year ahead,” he wrote.

Teaching union EIS welcomed most of the report’s recommendations, but said it didn’t address the “unprecedented” workload for teachers or hold the SQA to account.

General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS AGM was very clear in its view that the SQA had failed to deliver the level of support which schools needed and deserved and also that its own operations – late changes to units and assessments, poor communication, lack of professional support – had contributed greatly to the workload pressures experienced in schools.”

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “We need to get the balance right between learning and assessment and this report reflects my concern that the system is still too heavily weighted towards exams, which doesn’t always lead to better educational outcomes.”

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