Thirty examiners were sacked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) this year for breaking strict rules.
A total of 53 examiners, less than 1 per cent of the cohort for this year, were found to have acted in breach of protocol while marking Junior and Leaving Cert exams.
“Of these 30 will not be reappointed as an examiner, six will only be re-appointed at a lower level in the respective subjects while 17 received an official warning,” said the spokesman.
During the last six years, 404 examiners were found to have acted in breach of protocol. Of these 186 were not re-appointed as examiners (ie sacked), 85 were appointed at a lower level in their respective subjects while 133 received an official warning.
Breaches of protocol can range from errors in the completion of documentation, mistakes in totting up, and not meeting deadlines to more serious matters such as incorrectly and/or poorly applying the official marking scheme, failing to return scripts and threats to candidate confidentiality.
In all cases, the SEC said it applies penalties that are appropriate and proportionate to the degree of the breach of protocol.
The SEC said it does not comment on, or provide information about, any individual examiner who breaches protocol.
“Examiners who are reappointed at a lower level in the respective subjects typically mark less demanding material such as Junior as opposed to Leaving Certificate, and Foundation or Ordinary, as opposed to Higher level scripts and would also have their new work subject to closer oversight.”
Examiners appointed by the SEC are selected on the basis of academic qualifications, and teaching and exam experience. They are mainly recruited from a pool of experienced serving and retired teachers.
The main criterion is the ability to mark exams with maximum accuracy and efficiency.
When examiners are appointed they attend a marking conference are trained in the marking scheme. Their work is monitored by an advising examiner throughout the marking process.
The SEC said it has a responsibility to ensure that the work of exam candidates is marked to the highest standards and it uses a range of measures to assure quality and to identify poor practice.