Learned Societies’ Group response to the rapid review of the 2020 National Qualifications experience

The Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education (LSG) was pleased to learn that the alternative assessment model that was developed by SQA for 2020 would be subject to independent review with a view to learning lessons to inform future qualification
awarding methodology.

Although it recognised that SQA faced a monumental challenge in designing and implementing an alternative assessment model in a very short span of time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that the model lacked transparency and independent verification and led to considerable anxiety and confusion for a significant number of pupils. In the event that any future exam diet must also be wholly or partially cancelled, it will be important to apply the lessons that were learned to ensure that any future alternative assessment models produce fair and credible results and renew public faith in the system. The LSG also suggested that this review might also reflect on the extent to which the 2020 model adhered to the three SQA core principles of fairness to all learners; safe and secure certification; and maintaining the integrity and credibility of the qualifications system, and how any future models might better reflect them.

The letter presented the LSG’s main observations with respect to the 2020 alternative assessment model and associated review. These related to the statistical methodologies applied; the role of objective evidence; and concerns about progression prospects for pupils.