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More than 120,000 grades adjusted downwards under new SQA qualification regime

The Scottish Conservatives have raised concerns over startling figures showed that over 120,000 Scottish pupils had their grades adjusted downward and the vast majority by at least one grade.


Statistics released today from the SQA reveal that approximately 133,000 grades were adjusted as part of SQA’s alternative qualification award process, that was implemented following the decision to close schools and cancel Scottish exams for the first time in history.


According to the SQA, of the near 133,000 grades, 93.1% (124,564) were adjusted downwards and 96% (128,508) of these by at least one grade.


9,918 (6.9%) were adjusted upwards. 45,545 entries (8.9%) were adjusted down from grades A-C to grade D or to No Award and 43,423 (95.5%) were originally estimated to be grade C.


1,719 (0.3%) were adjusted from a grade D or No Award to grades A-C.


Whilst congratulating all those who received the grades they were hoping for, Shadow Education Secretary Jamie Greene raised serious concerns with the substantial adjusting downwards of grades, noting that over 120,000 students may have had their life chances diminished through SQA’s moderation system.

Mr Greene said that teachers were infinitely better placed that exam board moderators to give an accurate representation of the grade the students deserves based on ability and merit.


Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Jamie Greene said: 

“The revelations that the vast majority of the 133,000 pupils who had their grades adjusted will now find themselves worse off and over 45,000 will now receive either a grade D or No Award because of this unfair moderation process.


“There are questions to be asked about the whether it was appropriate to put such an emphasis on consistency on an untested system during an extraordinary event.


“The fact is teachers are far better placed than an SQA moderator to give an accurate estimation of the grade their pupils deserve based on ability and merit and the Scottish Government should have trusted their estimates at face value."



Notes to editors


The Scottish Government’s overview of the 2020 exam results day can be found here:

SQA’s methodology can be found here:

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