The assignment element of our new qualifications in Computing Science are set by the SQA but currently internally assessed by classroom teachers and externally verified. However the majority of other subject areas and levels are externally assessed by the SQA. Even a cursory a look at the SQA web site reveals the following subjects areas and levels have externally assessed assignments: Business Management (N5, H, AH), Physics (N5, H, AH), English (N5, H, AH), Chemistry (N5, H, AH), Administration and IT (N5, H), Geography (N5, H, AH) and History (N5, H, AH) are just the tip of the iceberg.
However, there are some good reasons for the internal assessment of Computing Science – the approach supports candidates and the marker understands the level of support given. Also, the number of programming languages used could make external assessment a more challenging task to complete.
The current situation does place additional workload on Computing Science teachers and is seen, by some, as unfair particularly as teachers receive no additional payment for this marking and the assessments themselves are complex and require between 45 minutes to an hour each to mark. A change to externally assessed assignments/projects could be made with very little change needed to the assessments themselves. The existing tasks would be valid but would be sent away for marking instead of being marked by the class teacher. Such a change would need to be taken to iROCC, the group within SQA which agrees course details and changes and is unlikely to be made by the SQA itself given the costs they’ve managed to avoid incurring compared to most other school qualifications they administer.
Before we start a major campaign to seek immediate change in this area we’d like to know what you think. Do you want to mark assignments or do you think that assignments/projects should be marked externally by SQA? If there is general support to move forward with this campaign we would engage in a sustained process of lobbying through CAS Scotland to make the case for change, reduce the burden of assessment and make more time for teaching.
Please use the comments below this article to contribute OR contribute to the Higher Computing Science Forum here.