Scottish Daily Mail
Exam chaos (cont.) – now pupils swap answers!
PUPILS are sharing questions on social media after the assessment system descended into ‘utter chaos’, it was claimed yesterday.
Formal exams were ditched because of Covid for the second year in a row, with children sitting informal tests instead.
But teachers say the scheme is a ‘shambles’ and the assessments are effectively exams, heaping pressure on candidates.
With children sitting tests at different times, some staff claim this has allowed pupils to swap questions via the TikTok app, used for sharing short videos.
The allegations will raise fresh concern about the SNP’s oversight of education after last year’s exams row, when thousands of pupils saw their marks automatically downgraded by an algorithm. Teachers told the Tes Scotland education journal the way pupils are being assessed this year is ‘utter chaos’.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) has provided schools – via its secure website – with the unused 2020 exams for subjects at National 5, Higher and Advanced Higher so they can be used ‘as internal assessments for gathering candidate evidence’.
But assessment arrangements differ between schools.
One teacher said: ‘The SQA secure exam paper is a fiasco, with many pupils passing on questions via social media.’
Another teacher said their Higher pupils had said ‘several of the papers they believe they will be sitting are already on TikTok’.
Tes Scotland said it had received information from more than a dozen principals and classroom teachers about how evidence is being gathered to support the grading of national qualifications this year.
The SQA has insisted that there is no need to ‘replicate full formal exams or prelims this year’.
Jim Thewliss, general secretary of secondary headteachers’ organisation School Leaders Scotland (SLS), said it was ‘perfectly legitimate’ that schools were taking a range of approaches to assessing their pupils ‘given no child’s or school’s experience will have been the same since they came back in August’.
But he said that simply waiting to run assessments as late as possible in the school year is ‘not the model I would have gone for, or would recommend’.
He said: ‘One of the challenges has been nobody predicted the kids being out of school from January to March. That means all the assessment has had to be crammed into the period after Easter – but that was why the period for submitting grades was extended to June 25.’
Glasgow City Council’s director of education Maureen McKenna said schools’ plans for gathering evidence are ‘flexible and responsive with back-up plans – just in case pupils have to self-isolate or are not having the best day’.
But one teacher said pupils were ‘pale and tired’ and ‘shattered’. Another said youngsters were only in their second week of assessments but ‘like shells of humans’.
An SQA spokesman said: ‘Centres need to maintain the security of assessment materials for the benefit of learners.
‘We will investigate any potential breaches of security of assessment materials – working with the school or college concerned.’
‘SQA secure exam paper is a fiasco’