The Scottish Exam Results: The real losers are last year’s cohort, and the next!

Now they’ve had a day to do some basic analysis of the Scottish exam results the newspapers have had a chance to put their spin on the story – and the narrative runs something like this:

First narrative – ‘Scottish pupils have had their teacher predicted grades lowered by the qualifications authority’.

Second narrative: – Poor Scottish pupils have had their teacher predicted grades lowered more than rich pupils.

Sources

Links to both the above are at the end of this article

This makes for a great story, but I think they might be misleading. As far as I can see, this year’s National Five Scottish students have done better than they would, on average, had they sat the exams.

If you compare the previous years’ results with the teacher predicted grades you get to see how exaggerated those predictions were…..

A comparison of previous year’s results with teacher predicted grades and the actual downward-adjusted grades

All of the data above is from the articles linked below – NB the blue column for the least and most deprived clusters is only 2019 data, A-C pass rate, and the exam results I’m looking are the National 5s, equivalent to the English GCSE.

What’s really going on?

  1. Teachers in Scotland grossly inflated the predicted grades of their pupils, by 10% compared to previous years on average.
  2. They exaggerated the results of the poorest students more than for rich students (bloody left-wing teachers that is!)
  3. The exam authorities modified the results downards, but the results received are still much better than the previous years, showing an improvement.
  4. The poorest students have improved dramatically.

Analysis

It’s highly unlikely that this bunch of students is hyper-successful compared to previous years, so thus unlikely we would have seen an increase in 10% points in the pass rate.

I think the real thing to keep in mind here is what really goes on in exams – pupils sit them, they are marked, and then stats magic is done on them so we end up with a similar amount of passes and grades distribution to the previous years – so it’s hard-wired into exams that little is going to change year on year.

That’s what we’re seeing here – the exam board adjusting to fit the results in with business as usual, but they’ve had to compromise with those optimistic teachers trying to game the system, and as a result, excuse the pun, this year’s Scottish students have done very well, especiallly the poor.

The students who should be angry are last year’s – they’ve lost out relative to this years, next year’s probably too, and those poor mugs actually had to sit their exams, and didn’t get four months off school!

This probably won’t be the way it’s spun in the media – it’s easy enough to find a few students a parents with individual axes to grind, against the overall trend of the 2020 cohort doing very nicely, thank you teachers!

Sources

The Scottish Sun

BBC News

What is the Gender Gap in Education?

The 2019 GCSE results show a 7% achievement gap between girls and boys in all subjects. There are variations by subject…. in English girls outperformed boys by 15%, but in maths boys outperform girls by 0.5%

What is The Gender Gap?

The gender gap in education refers to the fact that girls get better GCSE and A level results than boys, in practically every subject, and women are much more likely to go to university than men. For more specific statistics on the relationship between gender and educational achievement, please read on (sources below).

The 2019 GCSE results by gender 

The 2019 GCSE results show a 9.8% gender gap – with 71.7% of females achieving a grade 4/ C or above, compared to only 62.9% of males.

The table below show you the following: (cumulative percentages)

Subject |Sex | No. sat |7/A |4/C |1/G

The gap is slightly narrower for high grades for all subjects, as shown by this Guardian infographic.

The gender gap is only 6.5% for high grades in all subjects.

The GCSE gender gap varies by subject

Subject |Sex | No. sat |7/A |4/C |1/G

The gender gap does vary considerably by subject. As you can see from the statistics above:

  • For English girls do much better than boys – they outperform boys by around 16% for ‘good grades’
  • For maths the gender gap is 0.5% in favour of boys!

A-Level Results by Gender

At A-level, there is only a 3.9% point gap in the A*-C achievement rate between girls and boys.

HOWEVER, boys are much less likely to do A-levels than girls:

  • 440 379 A-level entries were female in 2019.
  • 360 623 A level entries were male in 2019.

This is because males are more likely to do vocational qualifications or apprenticeships at 16-19 compared to girls.

Further research…

Interestingly, research from the Cambridge Assessment Research Report showed that the ‘gender gap was generally smaller in STEM and Language subjects (around 5 percentage points at grade C) and greater in Applied, Expressive and Humanities subjects (around 14 percentage points at grade C)’.

There was a 9% point ‘gender gap at GCSE in 2015

Sources