Again, Andrew Marr offered us a set of statistics, unsourced, to claim failure for the SNP ambitions to close the attainment gap in schools.
Leaving aside the obvious comment that it cannot really be done without creating a more equal society and that requires independence from the most unequal society in Europe, his selected statistics seem dubious.
Here are some more useful ones:
‘94.4% of pupils had a ’positive destination’ including work, training or further study within three months of leaving school last year, official statistics show. The figures also reveal that the gap between those from the most and least deprived communities achieving a positive destination has halved since 2009/10, with an increase in positive destinations for school leavers, from both backgrounds. Over the same period there have been increases at all levels of attainment – the qualifications young people are achieving. For the first time more than 30% of pupils left school with a minimum of five passes at Higher Level or better, up from 22.2% in 2009/10. The gap between those from the most and least deprived areas achieving a pass at Higher Level or better is now at a record low, reducing for the eighth successive year.’
Scotland’s Chief Statistician has today published a range of statistics, including those on school pupils’ achievement of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) levels in reading and numeracy. The gap between the proportion of primary pupils in P1, P4 and P7 from the most and least deprived areas who achieved their expected levels in literacy and numeracy remains, although slight improvements have been made in literacy since 2016/17.
Here are some of the facts that would have helped readers and viewers to make their own informed assessment:
1 Pass rates up:
- the National 5 pass rate was 81.1%
- the Higher pass rate was 78.9%
- the Advanced Higher pass rate was 84.9%
- the National 5 pass rate was 78.2%
- the Higher pass rate was 74.8%
- the Advanced Higher pass rate was 79.4%
So pass rates up in all three exams painting a far more optimistic picture than those headlines.
2 Standards maintained to ensure credibility:
All exam systems rely on an essential process known as moderation to uphold standards. This ensures an A grade is the same in every part of the country, making the system fair for everyone, and across all years.
As the national exams body, only the SQA can maintain the consistency and the integrity of our qualifications.
Teachers and lecturers applied their judgements against national standards and today’s data shows that three out of every four grade estimates were not adjusted by the SQA.
Without moderation, pass rates at grades A-C compared to last year would have increased by 10.4 percentage points for National 5, by 14 percentage points for Higher and by 13.4 percentage points for Advanced Higher – annual change never been seen in Scottish exam results.
Had that inflation been allowed, imagine the headlines.
3 Attainment gap narrowed
This year’s results also show there has been a narrowing of the attainment gap at grades A-C between the most and least disadvantaged young people, which is now narrower this year for National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher than last year, or indeed the average for the last four years.