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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 15:07 GMT 16:07 UK
Has the Scottish exams body passed?
Scottish students have been receiving their much-awaited exam results.
It has been an anxious time for them and a tense period for the Scottish Qualifications Authority, which has been working to avoid a repeat of last year's results crisis.
Thousands of students received incomplete or inaccurate results in 2000 and many complained that they could not understand the certificates, which were redesigned to include data for the new Higher Still exams.
The SQA said it has been working hard to get things right but it still has to resolve about 1,350 exam cases this year. It has also revised the certificates to make them easier to understand.
And just hours after results were delivered this year, the SQA admitted to a significant error in the pass rate increase, cutting it from 7% to 1.3%.
But after last year's failure, has the SQA got it right for students in 2001?
This Talking Point is now closed. A selection of your comments are included below.
I believe that the results this year are a major improvement on last year and credit should be given for this. A minor statistic was incorrect and much debate over this ensued, missing the point that the SQA had made a major step in the right direction
I disagree with the people who have been suggesting that Scotland takes on board the English system for exams. I think that the Scottish system is far superior in terms of content, as it allows pupils to specialise in five subjects, rather than three. This is good, as 16-year-olds rarely know exactly what they want to do with their lives and limiting them to three subject narrows down their choices.
The fiasco last year was a direct consequence of the quangoisation of the Scottish Examination Board by Michael Forsyth and the Tories back in 1996. I call on the executive to abolish the SQA and resurrect the Scottish Examination Board which was directly accountable to the government.
The SQA has destroyed the reputation of the Scottish educational system, reducing it to a laughing stock - and created a feeling of deep disillusionment amongst school students. I trust the inane blandishments and worthless assurances of both the SQA and Scottish Executive education spokespersons will not be accepted at face value by your interviewers. Please ensure they are subject to informed and rigourous questioning.
I was hopeful that the SQA would get it right this year for me...last year they messed up my Geography and Maths Highers. But alas yet again I have received a result which I just cannot believe. I received a no award for Graphic Communication Higher; a subject in which I achieved 90% in the prelim and a guaranteeed A for my folio. Don't worry, I do intend to appeal, but how can they give me this mark if they checked with the school's estimates?
Before the SQA Scottish pupils used to receive their results at the end of July. Now the results arrive halfway through August. After many have restarted their sixth year, by which time they should have been expected to make decisions about the subsequent year's courses! The SQA has a long way to go before they reach satisfactory.
Jon Livesey, USA
Scottish Highers may be out in good order, but adults trying to pursue further education with the help of the individual learning account, may not be able to find out how to apply as there is no information in any other format than a leaflet in English. So too bad if you are visually impaired or your first language is not English .
Having sat exams myself under what was the former SED and the new SQA, I do have to say that I feel the new system leads to more administrative problems than anything else. Uner the old system it was one paper for all - under the new system we are faced with the potential of two levels for each student. The odds on mistakes being made are increased.
Being an SQA invigilator myself I see first hand some of the 'problems' that can occur - there will never be a perfect educational syllabus, nor yet a perfect examination system.
I do, however, feel that pupils need to be given some sort of self esteem, which is good under the new system, and I can honestly say exams are not getting easier, but merely that there are three different levels, i.e. Credit, General and Foundation.
Perhaps people who believe exams are easier should actually go and sit an exam paper themselves!
John Owen, Scotland
I agree with Paul from the Isle of Man. Surely a standard qualification in the UK is long overdue. And is it really fair to have results all released on different days? A-levels are not issued until Thursday and GCSEs in Northern Ireland come out on the 21st (Tuesday), not Thursday as in England and Wales.
I also, as a student awaiting A-level results, agree wholeheartedly with Daniel Pearson. I find it incredibly disheartening to receive hard earned results, only to have their worth undermined by "critics" claiming the standards are dropping.
I also would like to make a plea that such "critics" would realise that the AS-level results will not give an accurate picture of their "success" or "failure" because of the nature of the exams and whether or not students have decided to "cash in" their grades or not.
Forget a statistic, Congratulations SQA, teachers and pupils for co-operating together to deliver results. Probably the best exams body in the world as a result of everybody's efforts.
I think concentrating on the statistical error today is unfair on the SQA. Last year's problems certainly led to more anxiety for students but I doubt that many were concentrating on the statistics today.
SQA + pupils + teachers 10/10 for
getting the results. BBC + opposition politicians 0/10 for the arrogant disrespect shown by nit picking over a statistic. The people who really matter don't care. You forgot to ask yourself the 'so-what' question. Stop the gutter journalism and focus on celebrating success.
I received my results with high anticipation. As I read them slowly, I was ecstatic until I saw for Economics I got a C...I got AAAAC and was highly frustrated! In my prelim, I got 84% for Economics (an A) and I have been consistent all year. How on earth did I manage to receive a C for a subject I am very good at? I plan to appeal, but the likelihood of me receiving a grade what I feel I am due is low.
My son received his exam results this morning. I don't know if this year's results are correct but he has noticed that one of last year's results has improved by two grades! Thank you SQA.
I am amazed at the news from the SQA this morning given that my daughter and several of her friends did not receive their standard grade results at all - and my son's higher results bear no relation to reality whatsoever. Are they a very unfortunate minority or is the SQA covering up?
Dlo Brown, UK
Being a student receiving results for my Standard Grades, I can say I was impressed with the way things were handled this year as opposed to last. Although it must be noted that a friend of mine has still not received his results. So the system isn't the be-all-and-end-all of verification and distribution of exam results.
Awaiting and receiving exam results is a stressful but potentially rewarding process for students. Sadly, the recent controversy surrounding the SQA may serve only to increase the stress levels and potentially under-cut the sense of achievement that students will experience (i.e. by undercutting the legitimacy of their grades).
It would be much appreciated if the BBC would not add to this by wheeling out what has become a very tired annual debate about the alleged ever-increasing lowering in exam standards. Had standards really been falling from year to year, Highers and their English equivalents, A and A/S levels would by now be so easy that a chimpanzee could pass them blindly.
What I can't understand is why there is no standard qualification throughout Britain? Although we are a separate jurisdiction on the Isle of Man and have our own education authority, we still use the English system.
Scottish students have a disadvantage when arriving at university in England or Wales since they are not at the legal age required to secure student loans and subsequently have to study for up to a year without any financial support, unlike other British students.
Essential info - or phone, free: 0808 100 8000
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