High school exams are “out-of-date” and should be replaced by continuous assessments, a group of international experts has advised the Scottish Government.
The International Council of Education Advisers (ICEA) said the pandemic had exposed the underlying problems with exams like National 5, Highers and Advanced Highers.
They also recommended an ongoing review of the Curriculum for Excellence to learn lessons from the pandemic, incorporate digital technologies and embrace outdoor learning.
Formed in 2016, the ICEA is a group of 10 education experts who advise ministers on policies.
Their latest report said the Government was right to cancel this year’s exams and commended the use of teacher moderation, saying a new balance was needed between internal and external forms of assessment.
It said: “High school examinations are essentially an out-of-date 19th and 20th-century technology operating in a 21st-century environment of teaching and learning.
“Digital technology is transforming our capacities for self-assessment, peer assessment, shared assessment and continuous assessment.
“Assessment and examinations can now be more continuous, rather than episodic.”
It continued: “There may still be components of sit-down examinations, but if these are based on a wide menu of changing, problem-based questions, these can be taken and retaken like driving tests, as needed, throughout the year, rather than in a one-time, high-stress, win/lose moment.”
The report said the US state of California had now abandoned standard achievement tests as a basis for university entry.
Responding to the report, Education Secretary John Swinney said: “The International Council of Education Advisers recognises the effort and resources going in to narrow attainment gaps and strengthen the teaching profession.
“It reinforces the issue of equity as the defining agenda of our time, says we have an excellent standing internationally and that Scottish education can be a ‘global standard bearer in a post-pandemic world’.
“That is no easy task and the report provides a series of detailed recommendations to help us not just get back to normal, but to use the pandemic as an opportunity to develop a more resilient education system for the future.
“I am grateful to every member of the council for giving us their time and their experience to help improve education.
“We will consider the report carefully, discuss with our partners and publish a full response in the new year.”