Exam body upholds 55 appeals on discrimination grounds

The SQA accepted 55 ‘centre discrimination’ appeals over this summer's results – all of which led to a higher grade
2nd December 2020, 5:47pm
Emma Seith

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Exam body upholds 55 appeals on discrimination grounds

https://www.tes.com/magazine/archived/exam-body-upholds-55-appeals-discrimination-grounds
The Sqa Exam Body Upheld 55 Appeals On Grounds Of Discrimination This Year

Scotland's exam body received just 664 appeals from schools and colleges over this summer's results, new figures published today reveal.

Of these 664 appeals, 557 (or 83.9 per cent) were accepted by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, with 79.4 per cent of accepted appeals resulting in a better grade, 4.7 per cent resulting in a lower grade, and 1.4 per cent resulting in no change.


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This year - as a result of the cancellation of the exams in the coronavirus crisis - a new appeals process was put in place, with three grounds upon which an appeal could be made: centre administrative error; centre discrimination; and SQA error.

Coronavirus: Appeals over 2020 SQA results

Centre administrative error accounted for the majority of appeals, with a total of 565 appeals made via this route and with 88.8 per cent (or 502 appeals) accepted by the SQA.

There were, meanwhile, 97 centre discrimination appeals made, with 56.7 per cent (or 55 appeals) accepted by the SQA.

There were two appeals under the "SQA error" category, but neither of these was accepted.

When it came to centre discrimination, the SQA said this was when "the school or college's internal review process disclosed that a candidate's original estimate was affected by discrimination or other conduct by the centre that was unacceptable under the Equality Act 2010".

When it was announced that teacher estimates would replace the exams this summer, there were warnings that - no matter how well-intentioned teachers were - these estimates would likely be affected by unconscious bias.

All 55 centre discrimination appeals accepted by the SQA resulted in the candidates receiving a better grade.

The SQA had been braced to receive a large number of appeals in the final stage of the moderation process it put in place, following the cancellation of the exams.

However, before that step could be reached, the Scottish government took the decision to scrap the SQA's so-called alternative certification model after students took to the streets to protest against their marks. 

The equivalent service last year - called the post-results service - received a total of 11,528 requests.

Overall, having a result "amended up" was the most common outcome of the appeals process this year.

However, 12.6 per cent of accepted appeals were "new entries" and 2 per cent were "withdrawn entries".

New entries included candidates for whom no teacher estimate had been submitted earlier this year, due to administrative errors.

A total of 70 accepted appeals fell into this category.

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