Exam appeals set to top 75,000

Last year, only 40 per cent of appeals against national qualifications were successful, and this year looks like being a repeat performance, reports David Henderson

Sixty per cent of the anticipated 75,000 exam appeals are likely to fail if last year's experience is repeated. It will again underline the eagerness of students and teachers to jump into the appeal system in a climate of continuing uncertainty.

The process will again show that some teachers may have some way to go in understanding the national standards in their continually revised post-16 subjects.

Last year, one in ten of the 750,000 National Qualifications results, from Standard grade upwards, was appealed by schools and colleges but only four out of ten succeeded.The Scottish Qualifications Authority expects a similar number of appeals and continues to claim that Scottish candidates are unique in the fair treatment they receive through the appeals process.

Teachers and lecturers have until the end of this month to submit appeals and evidence for them to the authority's HQ in Dalkeith.

Tom Drake, general manager for quality assurance, said schools and colleges this year would have to complete form Ex71 and with it all the supporting evidence for candidates, anything from prelims to work against the tests from the national assessment bank.

Students sitting Highers and Advanced Highers, or those waiting on results to pick up a job, will be given priority when examining teams begin to sift through the appeals at the beginning of next month. Schools and colleges are this week being sent lists of candidates who underperformed against their estimated grades.

Mr Drake explained: "We look first at the evidence and if it's convincing, they will get the appeal. If the evidence is not convincing, the teams will call for the script and review the marking of it. If they are happy it is sound, there is no change. But if the marking makes them think there should be a higher grade, they will award that grade." He added: "This is a unique feature of the Scottish system. Candidates can genuinely have an off day or can be ill."

Schools and colleges will know by mid-September the outcome of urgent appeals. Others will be known by the end of October with a second phase of certification in November.

Next year, in its new spirit of openness, the SQA will pilot the return of scripts in as yet unnamed Higher and Advanced Higher subjects where candidates want to see their papers.

Candidates will be asked to pay for the service, as in England, and are likely to be able to see their papers once the appeal process is complete.

Those exam results at a glance:

2001 2002 Change

Standard grade

Results 459,366 456,219 - 3147

Pass rate 96.3% 96.7% 0.4%

Intermediate 1

Results 16,003 20,336 4333

Pass rate 61.7% 62.4% 0.7%

Intermediate 2

Results 58,995 67,388 8393

Pass rate 67% 68.5% 1.5%

Higher

Results 148,356 163,822 15,466

Pass rate 71.9% 69.7% - 2.2%

Advanced Higher

Results 6753 15,745 8,992

Pass rate 74.5% 71.7% - 2.8%

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