Scotland’s poorest teenagers ‘betrayed’ by Nicola Sturgeon as exam pass rates plummet

Scotland’s poorest teenagers ‘betrayed’ by Nicola Sturgeon as exam pass rates plummet

At Advanced Higher, 81.3 percent of submissions passed, down from 90.2 percent last year, but still up from the 79.4 percent the last time exams took place.

Prof Alan Smithers, of the Center for Education and Employment Research, said: “The move to teacher assessment during the Covid years led to runaway grade inflation, despite attempts by examination boards to moderate.

“This year’s exams have brought the grades back to almost where they were before the pandemic.

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“This is an indication of next week’s A levels, as the government had asked for a cut to the halfway mark, but Scotland seems to have gone further.”

‘We have delivered honesty’

Lindsay Paterson, a professor of education policy at the University of Edinburgh, wondered why the graduation rate has risen since 2019, as this year’s students have missed at least five months of school.

He said: “Very rudely put – how would the Scottish Government and the SQA react to a proposal to close schools for about a quarter of the year, to provide pupils with laptops and online classes, and to have teachers on hand to staff advice line?

“Of course that wouldn’t be my view, but what it might show is that neither the courses nor the assessments have much more to do with what a good education should be.”

Fiona Robertson, chief executive of the SQA, said her organization’s job was to establish a “fair” grading system. She insisted that detailed questions about the performance gap were “not for me.”

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When asked about the widening gap in educational attainment compared to the previous two years, she pointed to evidence showing that the poorest children were hit hardest by disruption of their learning.

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“We’ve seen a return to exams, but it’s not a return to a normal year,” she said. “Overall, I think we have delivered fairness to learners, and an important responsibility we have is to maintain the credibility and standards of the qualifications system.

“Most important of all, the results day is about students taking pride in their achievements.”

A spokesperson for Ofqual, the exam watchdog for England, said: “We have been clear that the assessment will be generous this year. Overall results in England are likely to be lower than in 2021, when grades were awarded by teacher assessment, but higher than in 2019, when the last summer exams took place.”

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