South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) to establish a ‘robust’ appeals process following the release of exam results today (Tuesday).
Results were based on a combination of teacher estimates and national moderation after exams were cancelled due to Covid-19.
The pass rate for National 5 was 81.1%, while the Higher pass rate was 78.9% and the Advanced Higher rate was 84.9%.
In 2019, the National 5 pass rate was 78.2%, the Higher pass rate was 74.8% and the Advanced Higher rate was 79.4%.
About 138,000 students have been getting their results, while a total of 133,000 individual results were adjusted by the SQA from the initial estimates of grades that were submitted by teachers – a quarter of the total.
Of these, 6.9% of the estimates were adjusted up, while 93.1% were adjusted down. Almost all (96%) were adjusted by a single grade.
Colin Smyth said: “This has been a hugely challenging time for both pupils and teachers and I would like to congratulate everyone who received their exam results as well as all teachers who have worked so hard in very difficult circumstances.
“I hope those receiving their results feel like their hard work has paid off, but I know some will be disappointed with what they’ve received. In these cases, it is important to remember that everyone’s journey is different and there is support out there for anyone who needs it.
“However, we cannot forget that this year’s results come from exceptional circumstances, and nobody should feel like they’ve lost out because of the system used by the SQA to determine grades.
“That is why I’m calling on a robust appeals system to be put in place as soon as possible. Grades were estimated by teachers and many have been adjusted down, which has seen passes turn to fails and throws into doubt further education choices. Our teachers are the real experts here and their professional judgement should not be overlooked by the SQA.
“There are also questions to be answered about the SQA adjusting results on the basis of each school’s past performance, marking the school not the pupil, and reinforcing in the attainment gap. That gap will get wider because ultimately it will be pupils from more deprived areas that will be marked down based on this system.”