Minister for Education Norma Foley addressing the Dáil tonight
Minister for Education Norma Foley made a statement to the Dáil about the two code errors, out of 50,000 lines of code, in the Leaving Certificate calculated grades system which have resulted in thousands of students getting incorrect results.
She said it’s possible that 6,500 students were wrongly given lower results than they should have received, while potentially another 6,500 students may have been given higher results than they should have received.
The errors were detected by a Canadian firm involved in the process, Polymetrika International Inc.
Ms Foley explained:
“The system was meant to take a number of factors into account in computing the Leaving Certificate results. Among these were the results of the students’ junior cycle examinations which were considered at an aggregated class level.
“It is important to say that the junior cycle results of individuals were not being used to predict or influence their Leaving Certificate result. The data was to be used at an aggregated class level.
“The system was meant to draw on the core subjects of Irish, English and Maths and combine them with the students’ two best non-core subjects.
“The coding error, instead, combined them with the students’ two weakest non-core subjects.
“In the course of the review, the Calculated Grades Executive Office immediately undertook on Friday, staff found a further error in the code…
“The results of the subjects Civic Social and Political Education, CSPE, were meant to be disregarded by the system. They weren’t. They had been included in error.”
“While we do not yet have the final figures and we won’t have final figures until the independent review, which is underway, has been completed, our checks to date indicate that the error has affected approximately 7,200 grades.
“There were over 400,000 calculated grades in total issued on September 7.
“As a result of both errors, approximately 6,500 students received at least one result which was one grade lower than they should have. That is being rectified.
“In addition to the students who have received a lower grade then they should have in this year’s Leaving Certificate, some students received a higher grade. They will not be affected in any way. Their grades stand.
“Those who have received a lower grade will have a proper grade restored. When all the checks are completed, we’ll ensure the corrected results to the students affected, we will issue the corrected results to the students affected.
“As soon as it is possible to do so, every student will be contacted by text message and informed whether they are impacted or not.”
Rise TD Mick Barry had the following exchange with Ms Foley.
Mick Barry: “In addition to the students who received a lower grade than they should have in this year’s Leaving Certificate, some students received a higher grade. How many?”
Norma Foley: “It, as I have said previously, it is difficult to know the finite number of students until all the checks and reviews and balances have been put in place. But in terms of the students, as you have referenced, who will go up by at least one grade, we are estimating at this point, that we are talking about approximately 6,500 students and that is an estimate at this stage.
“So I can only estimate, that when students go up, you’re perhaps talking about a similar number but again I’m not a statistician and I wouldn’t have that information fully available to you until the review is complete…”
Barry: “Sure, I’ll…I’m not expecting an exact figure. But just to be clear, so, when you say that in addition to the students who received a lower grade, some students received a higher grade, you think that as many as 6,500 students could have received a higher grade?”
Foley: “I can’t say that definitively to you, deputy but I’m going to assume that if the estimate is that number will go up by one grade, there is every chance that we might be talking about a similar number…”
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