Today’s twitter post from the Scottish Cons, as the latest poll predicts their extinction in Scotland, fails to survive a collision with the facts:
Statistics from the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) show that for pupils in the 20 per cent most deprived areas of Scotland, the Higher pass rate was 70.2per cent this year, down from 83.2 per cent last year
The SQA said the attainment gap between the most and least deprived areas of Scotland was 15 percentage points in 2022, up from 7.8 percentage points in 2021. However the gap is narrower than in 2019, when it was 16.9 percentage points.https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/20611678.attainment-gap-widens-poorer-pupils-suffer-greater-impact-pandemic/
So, to repeat the bleeding obvious, you can’t meaningfully compare the exam-based 2022 results with the no-exam-based 2020 or 2021 results. Teachers in deprived areas were then given the power to actually close the gap by using their wider knowledge of what they felt pupils could do. You might want to make non-exam-based methods the norm but no credible educationist would make the comparison that has informed the above headlines.
Comparing 2019 and 2022 is also a bit problematic but it’s a lot more credible. So, the narrowing between 2019 and 2022 of 1.9% as a percentage of the 2019 gap, 16.9%, is 11.2%. That’s a statistically significant difference.
The Con tweet also fails to survive a collision with evidence from England where they have been responsible for educational attainment for 12 years:
The landmark study, based on research carried out for the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, found that disadvantaged pupils start school behind their better-off peers, and those inequalities persist through their school years and beyond – eventually having an impact on earnings.
The authors state there is overwhelming evidence that the education system in England leaves too many young people behind, and despite decades of policy focus, there has been little if any shift in the gaps in educational attainment between children from different backgrounds.
The report said: “Despite decades of policy attention, there has been virtually no change in the ‘disadvantage gap’ in GCSE attainment over the past 20 years. While GCSE attainment has been increasing over time, 16-year-olds who are eligible for free school meals are still around 27 percentage points less likely to earn good GCSEs than less disadvantaged peers.”https://www.theguardian.com/education/2022/aug/16/no-improvement-in-school-attainment-gap-in-england-for-20-years-report-says