Quality assuring the new National Qualifications

Following a statement by the Scottish Government, SQA is announcing that it is modifying the approach to quality assurance of the new National Qualifications, with immediate effect.

This decision has been taken following the evaluation of verification to date and also in response to teacher feedback.

In practical terms this means that there will be a change to the focus of the third round of verification for this year but also that from next year each round will focus on a different aspect of quality assurance.

SQA's evaluation of verification to date, gives clear evidence across subjects and in many schools and colleges of a sound understanding of the national standard and good assessment practices for Unit assessment.

The sample of Unit assessment which has already been verified gives us confidence that national standards in Unit assessment are being applied, and this provides the assurance necessary for verification of Unit assessments in the current academic session.

The third round, due to start in April, will now focus on verifying the Added Value Unit assessment and the internally assessed components of Course assessment, with a greater emphasis on subjects where there has been most change.

Dr Janet Brown, Chief Executive of SQA, said "The decision to make the modification we are announcing today was based on the sound intelligence from the verification to date and intelligence from schools. It will allow schools and colleges to concentrate on key aspects of national standards, while giving teachers time to focus on coursework and exam preparation.

“SQA is committed to continuing to work in partnership with teachers, lecturers and local authorities to ensure the successful implementation of the new qualifications for the benefit of the young people of Scotland."

For the 2014/15 academic session, the approach to verification will involve supporting and strengthening teachers’ experience in applying standards. The first round of the quality assurance system will involve the delivery of understanding standards events using exemplar materials. There will also be more targeted quality assurance activity of Unit and Course assessments, with the second round focusing on Unit assessment and the third round focusing on Course assessment.


What is Quality Assurance and Verification?

Quality Assurance is critical to the success of the new qualifications. The new quality assurance arrangements are designed to ensure that teachers can understand and apply the standards and that national standards are maintained across the system. This is important to give the qualification credibility among learners, parents, employers, further and higher education institutions.

Helping teachers to understand and apply national standards is a key aim of SQA's quality assurance system. Verification is used to confirm that national standards are being applied and maintained across the country.

There are three 'rounds' of verification through the year - the first is complete, the second is underway and the third will take place in April.

Training has been provided for those teachers and lecturers who have been recruited to verify assessments, to ensure national standards are understood and maintained.

Those schools and colleges who take part in verification, receive individual feedback from SQA. General and subject specific Verification Key Messages are also published on SQA’s website, ensuring that all schools and colleges can get the benefit of the feedback to inform their practice.

The arrangements are designed to support teachers and lecturers, building confidence in their assessment decisions by reviewing internal assessment decisions at key points in the year and providing feedback and further guidance.