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sqa results, how come?

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by aypi, May 22, 2019.

  1. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    When I did my exams, back in the early eighties, I got my results in August. Computing power was a fraction of what it is now. I would imagine the last paper from the last exam is marked by mid June. Why does the SQA not use the number crunching power available now to release the results by the end of June? It must be possible. Results could even be drip fed to students electronically as they became available. Why the wait until the second week in Aug?
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  2. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Here, here!
  3. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    Aren't there a lot more folk taking Higher and Advanced Higher (or equivalent) exams than there were in the 80s? Also I suspect the grade-boundary process has become a bit more sophisticated with the aid of computers. Computers are rarely just used to speed up existing processes, they seek to add new features to those processes too, or allow fewer staff to do the same job in the same time. In any case, the last marking date for markers seems to be 27th June, which still means a lot of checking, sampling of marking, tracing of any missing or unmarked scripts et al. Just over a month to do all the necessary checks and make sure everyone gets their results on time and accurate doesn't seem unreasonable.
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  4. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    Funnily enough, I suspect the opposite about grade boundaries. Most are 50% for a C. Some have low pass rates and a higher pass mark than 50%.
  5. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    Which suggests something slightly more sophisticated than "ooh, people didn't do very well, let's lower the pass mark" going on, no?
  6. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    No, it does not suggest sophistication to me.
    So the markers, for most(?) subjects are sitting at their pc, marking away, being checked as they go with sampling of their marking. Marks will go straight into a database where analysis can take place, different boundaries tried and the effects looked at, the group that decides the boundries would not even have to meet, it could be done virtually.
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  7. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    My understanding is that there is qualitative analysis too - did this mark "perform" as a C-grade mark or an A-grade mark? Was that question as challenging as it was meant to be? Maybe you could automate all that, but would it be worth the hassle and expense to get some results out a week or two earlier?
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  8. autoq

    autoq New commenter

    I am still amazed that no-one wants to address the idiocy of the 4 week (approx) daftness where the new "seniors" start their e.g. Higher course in June then have 6/7 weeks holiday. Then promptly forget it all ! It is just crazy.
    Next mind those that then change their courses/levels after the results come out. More timetabling changes and disruption. Daft.Daft.Daft.:confused:
    No need for it either.
    Make the exams in the last 4 weeks of June before the summer holidays.
    6 weeks to mark and then produce the results when the next academic session starts. Crazy time for a few days in school and then everyone gets on with the next academic session.
    The "6 week exam turnround " is perfectly do-able. The SQA markers might have to accept working full-time for a few days into the summer holidays. But they are getting paid for it. Given the digital nature of the marking, the SQA could easily hire qualified people from ANYWHERE in the world to do it (at the very least they could start within the UK/EU)...
    Pros :)
    It is entirely achievable.
    It is better for pupils and for course delivery.
    It is accordingly better for staff/ course administrators.
    No Easter break immediately before the exam/study leave !!!
    Quality of marking may actually increase as markers might have less distractions (like teaching the next day!!) and can focus fully on the marking.

    Cons :p
    None - except for the moans of those who like the stupidity of the existing setup and aren't interested in making the effort required to implement the changes... like the SQA:rolleyes: !!

    Another staffroom rant of mine ticked off ! ;)
    bigjimmy2 likes this.
  9. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    Nobody would mark if the marking diet was exclusively over the summer holidays.

    Some teachers are married to non-teachers, who maybe only get 2 weeks holiday and don't have the flexibility of six and a half weeks for summer holidays

    Indeed the SQA could hire people from anywhere in the world. Are you seriously advocating people who know nothing about our system and course content should be marking these exams? I know the SQA reeks of incompetence but this really would plumb new depths. What planet are you on?

    August is absolutely fine for results. You would be changing just for the sake of changing things. Because it could be done, doesn't justify doing it.
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
  10. halfajack

    halfajack Occasional commenter

    Speaking of technological advances, anyone know why the English folios (and possibly other subject assignments) are not submitted electronically yet? The current process seems ridiculous - Folios are typed on computer and printed on paper, flyleafs are still filled out by hand, packs still being checked by departments and put into bundles of ten in alphabetical order, packs are collected by a van and driven to SQA from all over Scotland, scripts are scanned in what I imagine to be a factory-line type process, scripts (often distorted copies) are then made available online as images to be marked. A lot in there could be cut out using the technology we already have!
  11. Marisha

    Marisha Occasional commenter

    No idea. It may be because kids are still allowed to handwrite if they wish. Even then, staff are told to paste it onto the template, so that it can be scanned at the other end.
  12. autoq

    autoq New commenter

    --You have no basis for that other than your own laziness. Anyway the exam diet would not be exclusively over the summer holidays. Only the exams that fall in the last few days/week would be exclusively over the holidays. The others could at least be started before then.

    Seriously, stop it with the pointless points!. What about all the others ?
    I know plenty of teachers who do extra work (unpaid) over the holidays. Nobody is making anybody do anything they don't want to. Your "point" is irrelevant.

    Same planet as you my friend. You do know that you/we/Sotland are not that special ? We don't have anything special about our exam process/ questions/answers ,etc.
    Why can't someone from England mark a Modern Studies paper ?
    Or someone from Japan mark a Maths paper ? .... ,etc.
    For goodness sake - if I could go there to teach, or they could teach here then why not mark also ?
    Or even get some uni students (non teaching even, but subject specialists) to mark. They could be trained within about 2 hours. Seriously. Yes they could.

    Hmm - I KNOW that August is fine for results. That's not the point here !!
    I am not just suggesting changing it "for the sake of it". Tha'ts what the SQA do/did with the National examinations !.
    I presume you don't have any literacy qualification as you obviously failed to read the section of my post about Pros/cons.... those are the reasons !

    All that my post is really doing is just questioning the timing of the exams and how long it takes the SQA to process the marking. I am just saying that with a bit of organisation, it could be turned around much quicker and hence allow the courses to actually start at the beginning of the academic year. Surely to goodness that make sense to you/everyone?

    So you acknowledge it could be done without giving any reasons why it shouldn't be done. I gave you plenty of reason why it SHOULD be done. If you want to discuss it - give me some of the negatives please. All you have done is stick your head in the sand and essentially say that you're okay with the existing process. That's not good enough.
    At least I am astute enough to recognise the daftness in the existing system and what is wrong with it. The issue would appear to be that there are quite a few in the marking process who put themselves first. Not the learners.
    Sounds like you're one of them... do you work for the SQA perchance ?
    Getoutoere likes this.
  13. BillyBobJoe

    BillyBobJoe Established commenter

    Well that's a rant completely disproportionate to the issue at hand. There are words beginning with "a" and ending in "e" that could be used to describe autoq, but "astute" is a long way down the list.
    Effinbankers likes this.
  14. Getoutoere

    Getoutoere New commenter

    Well said autoq, I certainly agree that starting courses for 4 weeks in June and then having a six week break is not beneficial to our pupils. Certainly a start in August with a later exam diet would be more beneficial!
  15. bigjimmy2

    bigjimmy2 Lead commenter

    Mmmm, not really sure what to make of this now.

    June is a dead zone wrt teaching new S5s and S6s. I've always started the courses in August but a couple of years ago I started in June but the pupils had forgotten everything I had taught them before the summer holidays. So, I had to kinda start all over again in August.

    This year I have already started N5 with the new S4 and in June I will start N5 with the new S5/6. Damn the pupils if it doesn't suit them but I'm b_ggered if I'm going to be rushing around for the rest of the year trying to get the course finished because of lack of time.

    So, I would move the exam diet to June. That would give teachers an extra three/four weeks to finish courses. Less time for the SQA to arrange marking etc but then that's not our responsibility, but it is achievable.
  16. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    Are you assuming I mark for the SQA? I don't. So how could I be lazy for doing work that I don't choose to do?

    As irrelevant as moving the exams to a different time of year. That's your point. Moving exams because you want them to. Whats the educational rationale, apart from you want them moved? Kids sit exams, kids get results. Does it mater if it's June or August.
  17. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

  18. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    Astute??? That wouldn't be the adjective I had in mind. The comments below explain why

    Stupidity unparalleled. I am no fan of the SQA, my opinion has been consistently that they are a disgrace, but at least they require that you have taught the course before you mark it. What you are advocating is bonkers and undermines anything else you have to say.

    In the decade or so that I've interacted with this forum, this is is undoubtedly the silliest and crassest remark I've seen. To suggest that anyone could become up to speed in 2 hours is absolutely bonkers. Pupils require 160 hours to get prepared for a course, teachers must have 2 years experience (320 hours teaching) to mark it. But 2 hours is fine for you? Jesus.

    Go away and have a lie down

    Again, I don't mark. So don't criticise me for something I don't do.
  19. Effinbankers

    Effinbankers Lead commenter

    I haven't stuck my head in the sand

    O-Grade and Standard Grade pupils used to go 6/7 weeks without any teaching between S3 and S4 and this was the system in place for decades. Was a massive hindrance to them? No, it wasn't. So that kind of comment is garbage. If pupils want to achieve, a gap in their learning (be it at summer, October, Xmas or Easter), makes no difference

    I have two university degrees, if you want to get petty. You're the person advocating someone who has never taught a course should mark it. That will really promote standards.

    Good for you knowing people that are happy to work for free. Welcome to Tory Britain. That has FA to do with the exam system.

    My point is very relevant. People wont mark for an external provider without remuneration. And if you contractually specify that that work must be done in the summer holidays few will do it. So my point is very relevant.

    The exam system needs at least ten weeks to ensure papers are returned (some Scottish papers won't be returned by markers until the last week in June), checked, double checked, grade boundaries set, and certificates printed and published. The Scottish system has already moved exams forward into April so more checking can be done. As I've said already, I don't speak for the SQA, who are incompetent at best, but if you think that can be done in six weeks, whilst people (including the assessing teams) are entitled to their annual summer holiday, you're an even bigger fool than I think.

    Results need to be published by August for universities to finalise their admissions. But maybe they should start their courses in November to suit your agenda?
  20. dippit

    dippit New commenter


    Here's my tuppence worth to Effinbankers' reply to the following comment...

    autoq asked...Why can't someone from England mark a Modern Studies paper ? Or someone from Japan mark a Maths paper ? .... ,etc.
    Effinbankers replied...Stupidity unparalleled. I am no fan of the SQA, my opinion has been consistently that they are a disgrace, but at least they require that you have taught the course before you mark it. What you are advocating is bonkers and undermines anything else you have to say.

    Why can't I mark for the SQA? It's true that I now live and teach abroad, but I am a Scottish trained teacher who taught in Scotland for several years. I currently teach KS3-5 (S2-S6) which involves IGCSE, A Level (experience of several examination boards for both) and IB (all levels and options within my subject). Overall, I have 20 years of experience.
    Are you seriously suggesting that I'm not capable of marking for the SQA?
    Are you suggesting that your subject knowledge is so insufficient that you couldn't mark for another exam board?
    Your comments are divisive and over-critical...and presumably achieve the desired outrage from the forum members, hence this email!

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