School exam data used to spot “unexpected” grades

A report examining how national qualifications are to be awarded in Scotland this year says “most” boards will analyze teacher scores against their school’s historical data, in order “to identify and address any unexpected provisional note “.

Last year there was an uproar when the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) results were released, as top-performing students in relatively weak schools – often serving disadvantaged areas – saw their estimates d unfairly downgraded teachers.

A week after the results were published – and following protests from students that they should be judged on their performance, not their postcode – the Scottish government reverted to teachers’ estimates, except when a candidate’s result had been improved by the quality assurance process.


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However – as the government pledged when canceling this year’s exams in December that “no algorithms will be used in this exercise” – a new report released today by Education Scotland on how local authorities ensure grade quality this year shows that “most” boards are developing “tailor-made data analysis tools” for schools so that interim results can be analyzed “against trends over three or five years from historical data “.

SQA 2021 Assessment: Historical School Review Data Used for ‘Quality Assurance’

The report states: “Local authority officials plan to analyze trends to discuss this year’s interim results with school leaders, with particular emphasis on data verification and identification and referral. cause results or patterns of success that appear to be abnormal. This includes examining historical patterns and trends in relation to the provisional results of this academic session, at the individual, departmental and school level. “

But Jim Thewliss, general secretary of the school leaders organization School Leaders Scotland (SLS), said it was “perfectly legitimate” to use a school’s prior learning in terms of quality assurance process.

He said if the three-year trend for a department showed that the majority of results were traditionally B and C grades, but this year “a large portion” of students had reached A level, then a conversation with the head of the department was needed.

Mr Thewliss said: “The principal teacher could be new to the job, he could perhaps claim that he has revitalized the department and have proof that he started it all. have in relation to the quality assurance process – verifying that the achievement is based on solid evidence. “

The Education Scotland report – which is several weeks overdue and was originally due for release in mid-May – also states that “some” advice should “provide clearer guidance and expectations for all staff not to duplicate a diet. ‘exam-type evaluations. “.

The SQA insisted that there was no need to repeat the full formal exams this year, but this elicited an angry reaction from teachers, who said the body would only accept evidence collected in the conditions of the exams.

A teacher writes for Your Scotland said: “As every teacher – and, let’s face it, every student – knows, exams by any other name are always exams: when it all comes down to your performance today, whatever your experience of the past year is , this is a review. “

The report states: “While individual schools appreciate autonomy in defining their own assessment approaches, it is important that local authorities keep the school-level assessment approaches under review and take action. rapid action when the evaluation practice does not meet the expectations set by the [National Qualifications] Group 2021. “


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