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Scotland: First year of all-new exams sees Higher pass rate drop

Results show the proportion of students achieving an A to C pass has fallen this year

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Results show the proportion of students achieving an A to C pass has fallen this year

Today, results certificates have been sent to 140,055 candidates across Scotland who sat exams in May and June.

The results show that 77.2 per cent of candidates who sat the new Higher passed the qualification. However, last year – when the revamped Higher was introduced for the first time, in tandem with the old qualification – 79.2 per cent of candidates passed the qualification.  

The proportion of candidates passing the new English Higher is also down on last year, falling from 80.6 per cent to 78.8 per cent. However, pupils passing the new maths Higher rose from 70.8 per cent to 73.5 per cent this year.

The statistics published today also show that while entries for the bulk of the new national qualifications have grown the number of candidates opting to take a qualification at National 4 has plummeted, falling from 130,876 to 122,961.

The new National 4 qualification has come in for criticism in the past because it is entirely internally assessed. Last year, teachers took to the TES online forums to attack National 4, describing it as "not fit for purpose", "a joke" and "an utter shambles".

This year is the first year that schools and colleges have offered the full range of new national qualifications. The qualifications began being introduced in 2014 in a bid to ensure that the exams chimed with the new curriculum.

This year, the old Intermediate qualifications have been fully replaced by the new National qualifications and the old Higher, which ran in tandem with the new Higher last year, has been phased out. Candidates also sat the new Advanced Higher for the first time, with entries rising from 23,348 to 23,795 and the pass rate increasing from 80.9 per cent to 81.7 per cent.

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of exam body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority, congratulated candidates on their hard work and achievements and paid tribute to teachers and lecturers for their support and commitment.

She added: “This is the first year candidates will have been offered the full range of National Courses as part of Curriculum for Excellence. These results are testament to the dedication of the entire Scottish education system, working in partnership for the benefit of our young people.”

Scottish Government spokesman said: "It is misleading to compare the pass rate of the new Highers between last year and this. Last year, a particular subset of pupils - around half of candidates - sat the new Highers and as such, the cohort groups are not directly comparable.”

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