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Upper-secondary education student assessment in Scotland

A comparative perspective

Scotland’s Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is a pioneering example of curriculum reform, but the qualifications for upper-secondary school students have seen far less reform. Exam cancellations in 2020-21, and the debates generated provide an opportunity to radically reconsider the assessment system. This paper compares the Scottish system to four other British legacy systems and five other legacy traditions, to offer insight for how Scotland could improve the alignment between CfE and upper-secondary assessments. Theoretical considerations further guide the analysis on what constitutes a dependable and trustworthy assessment system, to refine the reflection around options for the Scottish system. Three major themes emerge from this comparative review: external assessments could be more innovative to capture a wider range of student capabilities; the role of teacher assessment could be reconsidered; and the academic and vocational strands could be better integrated with the assessment system to offer a broader range of curriculum options.

Published on August 31, 2021

In series:OECD Education Working Papersview more titles