Derived Grades 2003

SQA operate an automatic pre-results scrutiny of awards known as the derived grades procedure. This procedure has two purposes. First, it automatically adjusts the external assessment result for candidates whose performance in the external assessment is lower than estimated and for whom there would be a strong probability of a successful appeal. Second, it assists in determining external assessment results for absentees. From next year (diet 2003) this procedure will be amended as set out below.

Starting in 2003, processing of Standard Grade results will be brought into line with the systems used for the other National Qualifications. This means that the old programs for processing these results have had to be rewritten. This seemed to be the right moment to review the Derived Grade procedure for both Standard Grade and National Courses. The new procedures needed to be simple, transparent, and apply the same principles, while respecting differences between the two qualifications, such as the use of elements and bands, and their appeals processes for Standard Grade and National Courses.

The new procedure has two rules:

Standard Grade

This rule is applied element by element in each subject.

Candidates achieving one or two grades below their estimate will be upgraded to this estimate if three conditions are met:

  1. there are at least six candidates with this estimate in the centre
  2. at least 60% of the centre’s candidates with the same estimate have an external result equal to or one grade better than the estimate
  3. the candidate has taken the examination papers to which the estimate relates

The procedure does not apply to candidates estimated at grade 7 or for whom no estimate has been submitted.

National Courses

This rule is applied to each combination of subject and level, eg Mathematics Higher.

Candidates one grade below their estimate will be upgraded to their estimated band if two conditions are met:

  1. there are at least six candidates with an estimated band at the same grade in the centre
  2. at least 60% of the centre’s candidates with estimated bands at the same grade have achieved this grade

One of the most prominent changes is that concordance will no longer be computed. Instead, a percentage will be computed for every estimated grade in Standard Grade. In National Courses, estimated bands will be converted to an estimated grade to ensure a greater similarity with the appeals procedure.

The decision to put the minimum level of agreement between estimates and achieved external awards at the same level – 60% – for Standard Grade and National Courses is based on previous practice. This percentage takes into account the fact that estimates and external results generally do differ to a certain extent, so that a higher percentage agreement would be unrealistic. On the other hand, it also recognises that a lower percentage agreement would not give a strong enough indication that the estimate is at the right grade.

Another change is the restriction of automatic upgrades to two grades maximum for Standard Grade. Any changes greater than this will have to be made on the basis of due personal consideration by an Examiner, as part of the appeals process. For National Courses the maximum upgrade is from the lower band on one grade to the higher band at the next grade.

The report which is issued to centres (known as ‘Comparison Tables’, or ‘Median Report’) will have a new format. It will not contain the comparison table, but will continue to give a general indication of the difference between the centre’s estimates and external results. A new feature of the report will be a list of candidates who have been upgraded through the Derived Grade procedure.

The new procedure has been applied to historical data and the results have been compared with the results of the previous rules. The total number of candidates upgraded by the new Derived Grades procedure is expected to remain roughly the same for Standard Grade. For National Courses, the number is expected to increase marginally, and upgrades will all be to a higher grade, as upgrades within a grade will not be made automatically any more, –appeals for this type of upgrade are not valid either. The procedure will be closely monitored for the next few years in order to evaluate any effect on results, estimates and appeals.

Please contact Linda Robertson with any further queries - tel: 0131 561 6892 or