Nobody in Scotland could have been surprised to hear that the pass mark for the Higher Mathematics exam has been significantly reduced. My normally unflappable daughter took the paper and within a few minutes of the exam ending had raised her concerns with me. Before school bells rang to signal the end of the school day, mathematics teachers right across Scotland were also raising concerns. Like myself, parents across the country were worried.
So whilst the reported moderation of the grading was clearly needed, what is of concern is that it took 11 long weeks for the Scottish Government to concede that there was even a problem with the paper. Indeed, Nicola Sturgeon claimed in Holyrood that daring to questioning the integrity of the exam was “deeply irresponsible” and did a “great disservice to young people and teachers”. Surely, rather than adopting this defensive position, the SNP Government could have themselves offered support to the same young people and teachers by admitting at the earliest possible opportunity that there was a problem?
Yesterday’s exam results also contained one further interesting piece of data – some subjects have witnessed double-digit increases in the number of students passing. For example, the Higher English exam saw the number of students passing increasing by an incredible 17.7%. With an election approaching, cynics may suggest that this is a convenient statistic to counter that incontrovertible evidence that literacy is falling in Scotland.
Nonetheless, despite these concerns, we must congratulate every student in Scotland for the results they have worked so hard to achieve. In particular, I’d like to congratulate my daughter for scoring an A grade in each of her five Higher exams – including the Mathematics and English exams mentioned above.