Plans to publish the methods for choosing pupils’ grades on the same day exam results are announced are a recipe for disaster, the Scottish Greens have warned.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has said it will publish its methodology on results day, scheduled for August 4 this year.
The Scottish Government cancelled this year’s exams due to the coronavirus pandemic, with teachers instructed to submit predicted grades and rankings of pupils instead.
A school’s past performance will also be used to partly inform the grades of learners this year, leading to concerns from MSPs about the impact on pupils from deprived areas.
SQA chief executive Fiona Robertson wrote to Holyrood’s Education Committee, saying it would not publish the methodology before teachers’ submitted their estimated grades.
Ms Robertson said: “We believe it is in the best interests of learners if teachers and lecturers only make estimate decisions based purely on their professional judgement and their strong understanding of how their learners have performed and, based on their experience and the evidence available, what a learner would be expected to achieve in each course.”
Scottish Green education spokesman Ross Greer said: “Public confidence in this year’s grading system is critical, so keeping its details a secret until results day is a recipe for disaster.
“How can teachers and pupils make informed judgements about appeals for example, when they don’t know the model the SQA has used to change a pupil’s grade?
“What is clear now is that the SQA came up with a grading system and announced it publicly before conducting an equalities impact assessment (EIA).
“What are their intentions if the EIA concludes, as appears to be obvious, that the use of a school’s historic exam results will put pupils from disadvantaged communities at an unacceptable disadvantage?
“As I’ve come to expect, this latest update from the SQA raises more questions than answers.”
Responding to the Scottish Greens, an SQA spokesman said: “Schools and colleges across Scotland are currently working hard to provide estimated grades which will provide the basis of certification this year. We have provided detailed guidance and support for this.
“We outlined our approach to certification, including moderation, on April 20. Further information on our appeals service will be provided on June 2.
“We have also made clear our approach to ensuring we fulfil our equality obligations, including completion of an equalities impact assessment. Fairness is at the heart of our approach.”