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High Quality Assessment

What are High Quality Assessments?

A High Quality assessment is an assessment that is based on a number of Experiences and Outcomes that have already been covered in class or across classes over an extended period of time. There is no set number of Es and Os that need to be covered, and they can be from one organiser, or from across different organisers.

A High Quality assessment is an opportunity for learners to bring together key learning and skills to carry out the assessment task/s. This could be in the form of a poster, a report, an essay, a talk/discussion, a performance, a problem-solving task etc. It does not have to be a large project that takes an extended period of time to complete, rather it is a chance to showcase what has been learned over an extended period of time. High Quality assessments are also an opportunity for learners to apply previous learning to new and unfamiliar contexts.

Please see below a list from Education Scotland on what a High Quality assessment is, and is not.

High quality assessments ARE:

  • Considered assessments, used periodically, throughout the year and across a level to form part of the evidence base for progress through and achievement of a level.
  • Created when planning for learning and teaching.
  • Carefully constructed selecting Es and Os from planned learning to assess breadth of previously taught concepts and for planned new contexts for learning.
  • Carefully constructed to provide the appropriate level of challenge i.e. what skills are required from learners.
  • Carefully constructed to provide the application of prior learning (knowledge and skills) to new and unfamiliar contexts.

High quality assessments are NOT:

  • A large amount of unnecessary evidence
  • An end of unit assessment.
  • The only assessment evidence to be considered as part of progress through and achievement CfE levels
  • An extra assessment for children and young people/extra work for teachers

Well-designed high quality assessments complement ongoing assessments by helping to evidence learners’ progress.

High quality assessments can be taken from one of the four contexts of learning:

  • Ethos and life of school as a community
  • Curriculum areas and subjects
  • Interdisciplinary learning (IDL)
  • Opportunities for personal achievement
What are the key features of High Quality Assessments?

High Quality assessments demonstrate breadth of learning

  • This is because these assessments require the learner to draw on a range of learning from a small number of Es and Os

High Quality assessments demonstrate challenge

High Quality assessments demonstrate the application of learning in new and unfamiliar situations (the four contexts of learning)

  • This is because these assessments require the learner to apply what they have learned into new and unfamiliar contexts. They are transferring their knowledge and skills into something new and different.

Planning for High Quality assessments should begin with identifying and bundling relevant Experiences and Outcomes that have already been covered by the learners, and shouldn’t begin with developing an assessment task and identifying relevant Experiences and Outcomes later. All planning for Learning and Teaching should begin with the Experiences and Outcomes.

When should we use High Quality Assessments?

We should use High Quality assessments along with ongoing, periodic and standardised (if appropriate) assessments to make judgements on the progress or achievement of a level. High Quality assessments should be used once the range of Experiences and Outcomes that will be assessed have been covered, and should not be used as a way to introduce or begin new Experiences and Outcomes.

Why should we use High Quality Assessments?

High Quality assessments provide opportunities to allow children and young people to demonstrate the breadth, challenge and application of their learning. As these assessments bring together Es and Os from prior learning to a new context, high-quality assessments can also help build on the ability to transfer skills and knowledge.

It is very important we assess learners using a range of assessment strategies. Education Scotland says “A variety of assessment approaches can be used to allow children and young people to demonstrate knowledge and understanding, skills, attributes and capabilities in different contexts across the curriculum.” (Assessment in the BGE 2020/21 Update. Click here for the Gaelic version)

Reflective Questions
  • How do you ensure you plan assessment at the same time as planning for learning and teaching?
  • How does your establishment ensure all staff plan for ongoing, periodic and high quality assessment in order to gather a wide range of evidence informing professional judgement?
  • How do you/your establishment make use of the Learning, Teaching and Assessment (previously known as Moderation) Cycle?
  • How does your establishment ensure assessments are designed to provide opportunities for application?
  • How does your establishment ensure that planned assessments provide diagnostic information that informs and supports all staff to plan for learning, teaching and next steps?
  • How does your establishment ensure that approaches to assessment meet the needs of all learners and enable all young people to demonstrate their learning effectively?

High Quality Assessments Exemplars

Early Level Numeracy

Early Level Numeracy

I am developing a sense of size and amount by observing, exploring, using and communicating with others about things in the world around me. MNU 0-01a

I have explored numbers, understanding that they represent quantities, and I can use them to count, create sequences and describe order. MNU 0-02a

I use practical materials and can ‘count on and back’ to help me understand addition and subtraction, recording my ideas and solutions in different ways. MNU 0-03a

I can collect objects and ask questions to gather information, organising and displaying my findings in different ways. MNU 0-20a

I can match objects, and sort using my own and others’ criteria, sharing my ideas with others. MNU 0-20b

Through creative play, I explore different materials and can share my reasoning for selecting materials for different purposes. SCN 0-15a


Gathering, sorting and using a range of natural materials to determine which objects float/sink.

  • Split the children into groups of 4 outdoors. Ask each group member to collect a different type of object – e.g: rocks, leaves, acorns and twigs (to be used as part of science activity)
  • Have a conversation about the different types of materials collected – are they heavy/light? What else can you tell me?
  • Ask the children to estimate how many of each object they have and the total amount of objects collected and record these numbers.
  • Children should then check their estimates by being asked to count the objects.
  • The children should then use their objects to create a concrete display: (examples)

Source: High Quality Assessment – Numeracy Professional Learning session, Education Scotland.

First Level Literacy

First Level Literacy

I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in a logical sequence and use words which will be interesting and/or useful for others. LIT 1-06a

To help me develop an informed view, I am learning to recognise the difference between fact and opinion. LIT 1-08a

Throughout the writing process, I can check that my writing makes sense. LIT 1-23a

I am learning to use my notes and other types of writing to help me understand information and ideas, explore problems, generate and develop ideas or create new text. LIT 1-25a


After listening to a passage, highlight and take note of the facts and opinions in order to create a fact file on farm animals.

Success criteria (created with the use of the benchmark statements and in partnership with learners)

  • Tell the difference between facts and opinions in the passage
  • Make notes from the passage under the headings ‘Facts’ and ‘Opinions’
  • Use my notes to make a fact file on farm animals
  • Check my writing makes sense.

Differentiation ideas

  • Additional adult support
  • Key word bank provided
  • Target of fewer notes taken from the passage to provide a simpler fact-file
  • Target of more than 10 notes taken from the passage to provide a more in-depth fact-file
Second Level Numeracy

Second Level Numeracy

I can manage money, compare costs from different retailers, and determine what I can afford to buy. MNU 2-09a

Having determined which calculations are needed, I can solve problems involving whole numbers using a range of methods, sharing my approaches and solutions with others. MNU 2-03a

I can extend and enhance my knowledge of digital technologies to collect, analyse ideas, relevant information and organise these in an appropriate way. TCH 2-01a


We have been given a budget of £500 to create a ‘maths outdoors’ box for each stage of the school. Each box should contain at least some of each of the following:

  • Chalk
  • Measuring tapes
  • Rope cut into metres
  • Ten frames
  • Magnifying glasses

Success Criteria (created with use of benchmark statements and in partnership with learners):

  • Compare costs of boxes to stay within the budget of £500
  • Multiply and divide to two decimal places
  • Create a budget spreadsheet for each box using Microsoft Excel

Differentiation ideas

  • Additional adult support
  • Provide templates for budget
  • Smaller/greater budget
  • Fewer boxes
Second Level IDL

Second Level IDL

I can create and present work that shows developing skill in using the visual elements and concepts. EXA 2-03a

I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience. LIT 2-06a

In both short and extended texts, I can use appropriate punctuation, vary my sentence structures and divide my work into paragraphs in a way that makes sense to my reader. LIT 2-22a

I can manage money, compare costs from different retailers, and determine what I can afford to buy. MNU 2-09a

I can use and interpret electronic and paperbased timetables and schedules to plan events and activities, and make time calculations as part of my planning. MNU 2-10a

Using simple time periods, I can give a good estimate of how long a journey should take, based on my knowledge of the link between time, speed and distance. MNU 2-10c

By applying my knowledge and understanding of current healthy eating advice, I can contribute to a healthy eating plan. HWB 2-30a


Plan a class trip to Dynamic Earth.

You must cost this by researching different transport methods and the ticket costs, advertise it with posters, organise a healthy lunch, and write a letter to parents and carers detailing the day and what is needed from them.

Success criteria (created with the use of the benchmark statements and in partnership with learners)

  • Carry out money calculations involving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to compare the cost of different methods of transport
  • Work within a budget of under £10 per pupil.
  • Work out how exactly how much this trip will cost
  • Estimate how long the journey will take based on knowledge of the link between speed, distance and time
  • Make important notes about the trip using own my words
  • Use these notes to create a letter to parents and carers giving them all the information they need.
  • Use capital letters, full stops and commas correctly in the letter to parents and carers.
  • Create a healthy lunch plan for all pupils attending the trip.
  • Plan around dietary requirements and allergies.
  • Communicate to pupils the key information on a poster, including why they would want to visit Dynamic Earth

Differentiation ideas

  • Greater/smaller budget
  • Addition of deals such as for every 10 pupils, 1 goes free
  • Additional adult support
  • Keyword bank for a letter to parents
  • More/fewer dietary requirements/allergies
  • Additional routes examined
Third Level Health & Wellbeing (PE)

Third Level Health and Wellbeing (Physical Education)

As I encounter new challenges and contexts for learning, I am encouraged and supported to demonstrate my ability to select, adapt and apply movement skills and strategies, creatively, accurately and with control. HWB 3-21a

I am developing the skills to lead and recognise strengths of group members, including myself. I contribute to groups and teams through my knowledge of individual strengths, group tactics, and strategies. HWB 3-23a

I can analyse and discuss elements of my own and others’ work, recognising strengths and identifying areas where improvements can be made. HWB 3-24a

I am developing and sustaining my levels of fitness. HWB 3-22a


Play a 60 minute game of football using a range of skills such as dribbling, shooting, tackling and passing to my team members.

Success criteria (created with the use of the benchmark statements)

  • Identify the strengths of my team to assign appropriate individual roles and collective team strategies to maximise success.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of myself and others to play football safely in the performance environment.
  • Demonstrate the value of positive relationships whilst working with my team.
  • Be self-reflective during the half time interval in order to adapt roles and responsibilities to suit the demands of the performance.
  • Demonstrate stamina in physical activity to support a successful performance for my team.

Differentiation ideas:

  • Identify own strengths only/lead the team in assigning roles
  • Play in a smaller group to feel comfortable to build on positive relationships
  • Play a shorter/longer game
  • Divide teams to ensure there is a range of ability in each
  • Play separate games depending on ability
Third Level Social Studies

Level 3 Social Studies

I can discuss the extent to which my choices and decisions are influenced by the ways in which I am informed. SOC 3-17b 

I can use my knowledge of current social, political or economic issues to interpret evidence and present an informed view.
SOC 3-15a 

I can understand the arrangements for political decision-making at different levels and the factors which shape these arrangements. SOC 3-18a 

I can display data in a clear way using a suitable scale, by choosing appropriately from an extended range of tables, charts, diagrams and graphs, making effective use of technology. MTH 3-21a 

I can use a range of strategies and resources and spell most of the words I need to use, including specialist vocabulary, and ensure that my spelling is accurate. LIT 3-21a 


After carrying out a whole class election, create a newspaper report analysing the results.

Success criteria (created with the use of the Benchmark statements and in partnership with learners)

  • Identify three sources used in elections to influence people to vote a certain way  ​
  • Organise the data from our class election into a bar chart ​
  • Review data from our class election to form an opinion about the most popular political party in our class ​
  • Describe the role of our new MSP ​
  • Ensure all keywords are spelt correctly by using a dictionary, my peers and/or the internet 

Differentiation ideas:

  • Identify additional/fewer sources
  • Provide pupils with a labelled (blank) bar chart, rather than having to create their own
  • Provide pupils with a word bank of keywords that should be included in their report
  • Additional adult support
  • The expectation of more/less detail in written answers

Source: Scott Mathers, John Paul Academy, Glasgow

Third Level Health & Food Technology

Level 3 Health and Food Technology

I am developing my understanding of the nutritional needs of people who have different conditions and requirements. HWB 3-32a

I can apply food safety principles when buying, storing, preparing, cooking and consuming food. HWB 3-33a

Having explored a range of issues which may affect food choice, I can discuss how this could impact on the individual’s health. HWB 3-34a


Create a healthy and nutritious 5-day meal plan for a pregnant woman living in poverty.

Success criteria (created with the use of the benchmark statements and in partnership with learners)

  • Identify and list the nutritional requirements of pregnant women
  • Explain how poverty could influence choice of food
  • Use these requirements, with cheaper options in mind, to identify appropriate recipes to use across the 5 days
  • Create a shopping list
  • Explain the correct storage of food items on your shopping list, for example, where to store raw meat and cooked meat, cereals etc.

Differentiation ideas:

  • Create a meal plan for fewer/more days/meals
  • Use of visual prompts for foods/recipes
  • Additional adult support
  • Additional budget constraints
Fourth Level IDL

Fourth Level IDL

I can analyse products taking into consideration sustainability, scientific and technological developments. TCH 4-05a

I consider the material performance as well as sustainability of materials and apply these to real world tasks. TCH 4-10a

I can apply design thinking skills when designing and manufacturing models/products which satisfy the user or client. TCH 4-09a

By investigating the different influences on the consumer, I can discuss how the consumer can be influenced by external sources. HWB 4-37a

I can discuss the sustainability of key natural resources and analyse the possible implications for human activity. SOC 4-08a

By contributing to an investigation on different ways of meeting society’s energy needs, I can express an informed view on the risks and benefits of different energy sources, including those produced from plants. SCN 4-04a

I can monitor the environment by collecting and analysing samples. I can interpret the results to inform others about levels of pollution and express a considered opinion on how science can help to protect our environment. SCN 4-18a


Make a plan to build a sustainable, environmentally friendly home.

Success criteria (created with the use of the benchmark statements and in partnership with learners)

  • Recognise sustainability issues when selecting materials to build the home
  • Evaluate the sustainability of at least two key natural resources you will use in your design
  • Identify factors which affect product design, eg heavy rainfall
  • Identify different influences on consumer choice, and why people may look for an environmentally friendly home
  • Gives at least one reason for the presence of a pollutant our environment from housing in the past, and why this new home will avoid this
  • Describe the risks and benefits of different energy sources for the home, including at least one energy source from plants.
  • Use modelling techniques to evaluate the design concept and design proposal

Differentiation ideas:

  • Evaluate one/three or more key natural resources
  • Key word bank
  • Discuss the risks OR benefits of ONE energy source
  • Additional adult support
  • Remove the modelling technique aspect/paired with a peer for this

Have you used a High Quality assessment you’d like to share? Do you have any questions about High Quality assessments? 

If you’re interested in future High Quality Assessment seminars, please get in touch below:

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