An education expert has accused the SNP of using “very unreliable” comparisons to claim that performance on school exams has improved.
Professor Lindsay Paterson spoke up as the analysis of grade breaks revealed that the minimum C mark had been lowered in recent years.
And he explained: “Lowering the grade limits makes it easier to pass.”
Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth last week hailed this year’s pass rates as better than 2019 before the Covid chaos.
But The Scottish Sun on Sunday is able to reveal that the vast majority of C-grade thresholds – the pass level – were lower in 2023 than in 2019.
One of the advanced subjects where marks are far more generous was Accounting.
In 2019, students needed 51.1 percent to achieve a C, but this year only 41.7 percent.
On the relaxation of class boundaries, Professor Paterson, from the University of Edinburgh’s Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, added: “Examinations have already been eased this year to offset the Covid disruptions.
“The Scottish Qualifications Authority have not explained why either thing had to be done.
“There is a risk that this will make the exams too easy and make comparisons with the pre-Covid period very unreliable.”
Our analysis shows that for higher subjects overall, 35 out of 46 C class boundaries were lower in 2023 than they were in 2019, four equal and only seven higher.
For the National 5, in 2023, 34 out of 48 C limits were lower, 10 were the same, and only 4 were higher.
Major declines at the pass line included environmental studies and French for seniors, and history, Italian, and hands-on cooking for nationals.
The SQA has admitted to taking a “sensitive approach” to awarding grades that “recognises that learning and teaching is still in the recovery phase from the pandemic”.
Last week Ms Gilruth said: “There is much reason to celebrate considering the results show a clear and sustained recovery from the pandemic, with success rates at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher above pre-pandemic levels of 2019 lay.”
Liam Kerr, the Scottish Tory spokesman for education, accused SNP ministers of “desperate attempts to manipulate the statistics”.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Grade limits change every year.
“That’s not new.”
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