Education officials 'regret' Leaving Cert grading controversy

Education officials 'regret' Leaving Cert grading controversy

Officials from the Department are due to come before the Oireachtas Education Committee on Tuesday to explain the scandal which caused thousands of students to receive incorrect grades.

Department of Education officials regret the controversy caused by coding errors in this year's Leaving Certificate calculated grades.

Officials from the department are due to come before the Oireachtas Education Committee today, Tuesday, to explain the scandal which caused thousands of students to receive incorrect grades.

Senior officials have already started working on changes to next year's State examinations to take Covid into consideration but are "determined" to run conventional examinations in 2021.

It is expected that Dalton Tattan, assistant secretary at the department, will tell the committee that "very regrettably, a number of coding errors occurred in the calculated grades".

He will say that the "preference" of the department and all stakeholders would have been to hold the June examinations in 2020 for a number of reasons, "not least of which was that students are familiar with the examination format and the format of associated practicals and tasks".

However, Mr Tattan will tell the committee that the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 faced a unique set of circumstances and the decision to provide students with calculated grades was taken with the "very best interests of students at heart" and in "full consultation with the partners in education".

More than 6,000 students saw their grades increase after the error was detected – 485 of these students received a CAO offer on foot of their improved grades. Each of these students was given the opportunity to take up his or her offer in the current academic year.

Education minister Norma Foley has asked for a comprehensive independent expert review of the design and implementation of the calculated grades process.

It is understood Mr Tattan will tell the Committee that some initial scoping of the review has taken place and legal advice is currently being sought, having regard to certain litigation.

In August, Ms Foley announced a series of changes to the assessment arrangements for the 2021 State examinations.

The arrangements were designed to take account of the disrupted learning experienced by students during the 2019/20 academic year and to factor in for some further possible loss of learning time in the current school year as a contingency measure.

"As the loss of learning through school closures will have affected students’ engagement with their course of study in different ways, the adjustments put in place will play to students’ strengths by leaving intact the familiar overall structure of the examinations, while incorporating additional choice.

"Project briefs for relevant subjects will be issued earlier than usual and practical coursework will also be submitted earlier than normal," Mr Tattan will say.

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