Fri 1 May, 2020

Young people in more deprived areas in particular face being marked down, no matter how hard they have worked. This is a basic equalities and fairness issue. Ross Greer

The SQA has confirmed a system to replace this year’s exams which is ‘profoundly unfair, statistically flawed and will only widen the gap between students from the richest poorest backgrounds’, according to the Scottish Greens.

The exam body’s chief executive Fiona Robertson appeared before MSPs of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee, and confirmed, contrary to claims made by Education Secretary John Swinney, that pupils’ grades could be altered up or down by SQA moderators based on previous exam results at their school.

Fiona Robertson said grades provided by teacher judgement will be moderated if a school’s results differ in “shape and distribution” from previous years.

During the committee meeting SQA managers failed to provide answers to concerns that students’ grades this year will be adjusted to create a statistically average set of national results, to the disadvantage of many individual young people who could be issued a fail grade when their teacher or lecturer estimated that they would pass.

Scottish Green education spokesperson Ross Greer MSP called on the SQA to publish an equality impact assessment on the decision to use a school’s previous exam results to moderate individual pupil grades. He also pressed the exam authority to release the precise methodology it was using to moderate grades.

Ross Greer said: “I’m now convinced that this year’s qualification system is profoundly unfair, statistically flawed and will only widen the gap between students from the richest poorest backgrounds.

“Today the SQA had the chance to reassure MSPs, teachers, pupils and parents. Instead they will have only heightened anxieties. Young people in more deprived areas in particular face being marked down, no matter how hard they have worked. This is a basic equalities and fairness issue.

“The SQA must be transparent about this system so that teachers and young people can have the confidence that the grades awarded will be based on attainment not a statistical average.”

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