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Scottish pupils set to receive exam results

PA Media

Scotland's school pupils are to receive their results from the first set of formal exams held since the pandemic.

About 128,000 students from 500 schools, colleges and training centres will find out how they did in National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher courses.

The results are expected to lie between the record-high grades of the past two years and pre-Covid pass rates.

Students have been given extra support, with a "generous" approach taken to grading due to ongoing disruption.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said this would make it difficult to draw comparisons between attainment over recent years, but said universities and employers could still have confidence that standards had been maintained.

Certificates will begin arriving in the post on Tuesday morning, although 52,000 pupils have also signed up to receive their results by text or email.

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Exams were cancelled two years running during the Covid-19 pandemic, and there was controversy over how results were determined via teacher estimates and coursework.

The 2020 results were initially downgraded by a moderation system, before being reinstated amid claims some schools were unfairly penalised, while the 2021 assessments were criticised by some as being "exams by another name".

school pupilsPA Media

The results in 2020 saw the pass rate for Highers jump from 75% to 89%, while the percentage of pupils achieving As hit a record high the following year.

The SQA said grade boundaries would be set this year to strike a mid-point between those results and pre-pandemic levels.

The boundaries where A, B and C grades are awarded are reviewed every year, but officials said a more generous approach had been taken in 2022 in a bid to balance out the effects of any continuing disruption.

Analysis box by Philip Sim, political correspondent, Scotland

The whole point of exams is to produce a fairly standardised measure of a pupil's academic achievement.

How does that work, though, when students face massively different circumstances from previous years – like a global pandemic barring them from even sitting in an exam hall?

This is at the heart of the delicate balance the SQA is trying to strike.

Ministers and officials alike insist that the record results produced in the past two years are just as credible as those of previous generations.

But there has been a conscious effort this year to nudge them more into line with pre-pandemic levels as things get "back to normal".

The challenge is in doing this in a way which is fair to pupils now as well as those from previous years, and indeed the employers and further education institutions which rely on the results.

It also makes if difficult to compare grades year-on-year, which on a national level is important in tracking things like the poverty-related attainment gap.

And the re-adjustment is made all the more awkward by the fact it's being run by the SQA – which is in the process of being broken up and replaced.

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