A November Leaving Cert

 

Sir, – The decision not to run the original Leaving Cert has managed remarkably to impact on three years of examination grading in a negative way, affecting students from last year, this year and next year. This is not a success story.

The Department of Education and the State Examinations Commission were tasked with devising and leading the farce that was the Leaving Certificate calculated grading system. This despite the protestations of many students and parents in May and well-publicised data from the UK indicating that A-level predicted grades are accurate in only 16 per cent of cases.

If the majority of students are satisfied, a significant minority have suffered an injustice delivered by their own government. Introducing an appeals system that does not allow a true appeal and the drudgery of second-chance examinations in November, five months after the original date, have rightly not appeased the disenfranchised. Some students will have lost a year in college already by this stage.

Calculated grades were always going to be difficult. A teacher knowing a pupil’s academic performance over two or three years may be able to predict within one grade at best. Even in this ideal situation no allowance could be made for pupils who accelerate study in the last three months or who stopped studying for mock exams to prepare for the complex Health Professions Admission Test exam in February.

Once adjustments for past school performance were necessarily removed and attempts made to counter grade inflation, the process devolved into a fiction. A political decision was made to remove a major component of the much-promoted Department of Education formula at the eleventh hour, but we were asked to believe that it was still a robust instrument.

The Government has an obligation to make sure that the proposed November exams are held on time and to outline its plan now. This is a chance to make some amends.

The National Framework for Living with Covid-19 allows schools to remain open up to and including Level 4.

Organisation of these exams will be challenging and requires leaders that will not be deterred by special interest groups or other obstacles. A new steering group should be appointed, with medical advice sought early.

Any delay, except in extreme circumstances, is grossly unfair to this group of students, who have put up with enough already this year.– Yours, etc,

MARTIN O’CONNELL,

Castleknock,

Dublin 15.