Tens of thousands of school pupils are to have their exam results upgraded after the Scottish government agreed to accept teacher estimates of scores.
The government u-turn follows an outcry from pupils after a moderation system saw 125,000 estimated results being downgraded.
All results that were downgraded will now be withdrawn and replaced by the original estimates.
The move affects about 75,000 pupils across Scotland.
There had been claims that the moderation system unfairly penalised pupils at schools which had historically not performed as well.
And many pupils said they had been given lower grades than they had achieved in prelim exams at the start of the year.
Education Secretary John Swinney said he was sorry for the “feeling of unfairness” caused by the downgrading, adding that it was “deeply regrettable we got this wrong”.
Mr Swinney and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had both previously argued that basing grades on teacher estimates alone would damage the credibility of this year’s results compared to previous years.
Opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament are pushing for a vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney, with Labour and the Conservatives calling for him to quit.
The coronavirus lockdown saw all of Scotland’s school exams cancelled for the first time ever, with the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) drawing up a new system to calculate results.
This was to be based on teacher estimates for each of their individual pupils, based on their work during the school year.
But these estimates were then fed through an SQA moderation system, which downgraded the marks handed out by teachers to bring them closer in line with previous years.
This sparked an outcry from students, particularly when it emerged that the Higher pass rate for pupils from the most deprived backgrounds was reduced by 15.2 percentage points, but only by 6.9 percentage points for the wealthiest pupils.
Mr Swinney accepted there was “clear anger and frustration from young people and their families” about this, saying it had “left many young people feeling their future had been determined by statistical modelling rather than their own ability”.
He said he would now direct the SQA to reissue grades “based solely on teacher or lecturer judgement”.
Fresh certificates will be issued and the university admissions body informed of the changes so applications can be processed.
The education secretary said a short-term review of the immediate row would be held, as well as a longer-term study of how future qualifications should balance work from exams and teacher assessments.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had previously said that accepting teacher estimates without moderation would lead to an exceptionally high pass rate compared to previous years, which she said would not be “credible”.
And Mr Swinney said last week that he believed teachers were often “optimistic and aspirational” about their pupils’ abilities, while an exam system “does something different”.
The Higher pass rate will now sit at 89.2%, up 14.4 percentage points on 2019, while the Advanced Higher pass rate is at 93.1%, up 13.7 points from the previous year.
At Ms Sturgeon’s coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, she said concerns about the credibility of the unusually high pass rate were outweighed by the risk of students thinking the system was “stacked against them”.
Mr Swinney echoed this, saying: “We were concerned that grade inflation through accepting the original estimate from teachers would run the risk of undermining the value of qualifications in 2020.
“In light of events and listening to young people, we now accept that concern - which is not without foundation - is outweighed by the concern that young people, many from working class backgrounds, may lose faith in the education system and form the view that no matter how hard you work, the system is against you.”
Labour are pushing for a vote of no confidence in Mr Swinney, likely to be held at Holyrood later in the week.
The party’s education spokesman Iain Gray said Mr Swinney had left students “twisting in the wind for a week”, and urged him to “take full responsibility for it happening in the first place and resign”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Jamie Greene said Mr Swinney’s statement had been “the longest resignation speech in history, minus the resignation”, and Lib Dem leader lie Rennie said the education secretary was “part of the problem, not the solution”.
The Scottish Greens said Mr Swinney had “refused to listen” to earlier concerns, but welcomed that he had met the conditions the party had set for backing him in any confidence vote - likely securing his future.
Other parts of the UK are using a similar moderation system, with A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland due out on Thursday.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he understands “anxiety” over grades, and that “we will do our best to ensure that the hard work of pupils is properly reflected”.