Low pass rates

15th August 2008 at 01:00
Last week's exam results produced a mountain of statistics. Henry Hepburn sifts through the figures to identify some emerging trends in Scottish schools and colleges

Several courses had pass rates of less than 50 per cent - and three failed to be completed by anyone. There were 21 candidates in Intermediate 2 care issues for society: child care, but not one pass. Last year, 55 out of 98 candidates passed.

Access 2 Italian, similarly, was failed by each of its 18 candidates. Last year only one candidate sat the course, and passed - meaning the statistics record a change in the pass rate from 100 per cent to 0 per cent in a year. All 43 media studies Access 2 candidates also failed.

The most popular course with a pass rate of less than half was Intermediate 1 geography. Only 338 out of 688 candidates passed, or 49.1 per cent.

"You have to look at these candidates along with the Intermediate 2 profile," a Scottish Qualifications Authority spokesman said. "Intermediate 2 results show a large `tail' of candidates who just pass or fail the exam. Many of these candidates might, if they entered the Intermediate 1 exam, be successful at this level and boost the success rate."

The only Highers failing to reach 50 per cent were visual arts (33.3 per cent), travel and tourism (39.8 per cent) and home economics: fashion and textile technology (48.4 per cent).

Others failing to hit the 50 per cent mark included: Access 2 music (8.7 per cent); Access 2 religious, moral and philosophical studies (13.1 per cent); Access 2 German (23.3 per cent); Access 2 personal and social education (31.4 per cent); Access 3 practical experiences: construction and engineering (39.2 per cent); Advanced Higher business management (39.3 per cent); Intermediate 2 fitness and exercise (41.7 per cent); Advanced Higher product design (42.4 per cent); Access 2 computing (43 per cent); Intermediate 1 graphic communication (48.6 per cent).

Standard grade is designed to give pupils of all levels a high chance of some sort of pass, so pass rates invariably stick close to 100 per cent. The subject with the lowest pass rate this year, by some distance, was science at 91.6 per cent.

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