I Award the SQA a FAIL – Part 2

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I still haven’t calmed down.

I want to add a few points to my article from yesterday.

  1. The SQA is a Government Agency that polices itself. There is no external scrutiny. This lack of accountability needs rectified as a matter of urgency. The organization is no longer fit for purpose.
  2. The ‘credibility’ issue – The Government claims, had it not agreed to the downward moderation of grades, that the potential ‘inflation of grades’ would have affected the value and credibility of national qualifications. WRONG. Had teachers’ professional judgement been rubber-stamped this may actually have increased the credibility of using continuous assessment as the tool by which awards are made – as in the Scandinavian model. It would have also made the SQA look as if it actually trusted teachers. You can’t trust teachers 75% of the time, particularly when those same teachers whose grade estimates have been downgraded are then enlisted and entrusted to mark the appeals. I would also highlight that there are many teachers who are Team Leaders and Markers for the SQA whose grades have been downgraded despite getting their estimates year in, year out, absolutely spot on. That ironic situation is irrational and illogical. I know of one pupil who was estimated an A (not at this school) and received an award of D. Is that a ‘credible’ result?
  3. You cannot compare continuous assessment results with examination results. Any educationalist with even half a brain could tell you that pupils’ achievement in continuous assessment is going to be far higher than the results where the main reliance is on a high-stakes, panic-inducing examination. Pupils can misinterpret the question, can answer a question that has not been asked, are in a context that is very different from the school classroom (often with an invigilator they do not know) and, on top of all of this, are nervous about the prospect of failure. An award based on continuous assessment has fewer of these pitfalls. Why can’t a system be predicated on success rather than predicated on failure? Do we question the pass marks in Undergraduate courses at University?
  4. The fact that so many teachers and Head teachers have to announce their criticisms under the cloak of anonymity tells you everything you need to know about the politicization of our education system. No one is allowed to criticize. We are pretty close to be living in the most totalitarian system in Europe where honest appraisal is not allowed if it contravenes the ‘party line’. This is not only dangerous, it is educationally ignorant.
  5. We were told this new system of assessment would not disadvantage any pupil. That is an outrageous statement. Thousands of pupils have been disadvantaged. How dare the SQA receive the professional judgement of a teacher and downgrade it because of some lunatic statistical algorithm.

You can probably tell by now that I am not going to let this issue rest. Can I ask all readers who agree with the sentiments expressed in this post to contact their local MSP and express your disgust at the rubbishing of Scotland’s pupils’ attainment?

What a sad indictment that at a time when trillions of pounds has been spent on grants, on the furlough scheme, on the reduction of VAT, on the ‘two meals for one’ policy, where every aspect of our society has been listened to and helped, that it is our young who get royally fleeced.

What is happening to Scotland, once the pinnacle of educational competence and held in such high regard throughout the world? I’ll let you provide your own answer to that question (please see above for clues).