Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Meath East, Fianna Fail)
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157. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he sought or received advice on the integrity of a delayed leaving certificate exam; if so, if the advice will be published; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5546/20]

Photo of Joe McHughJoe McHugh (Donegal, Fine Gael)
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I established the Advisory Group for Contingency Planning for State Examinations 2020 to identify and advise myself, the Department and the State Examinations Commission on arrangements for the running of the 2020 state examinations, the certification of students’ learning in 2020 and any consequential actions arising. The Group contains representatives of students, parents, teachers, school management bodies as well as the Department and its agencies.

Every effort was made to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held. However, based on public health advice and other assessments, I concluded that the Leaving Certificate examinations could not be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students, In July and August.

Many different scenarios were considered by the Group, such as online exams, shortened papers, and fewer examinations. None of these options would have been as fair an assessment as the Calculated Grades model. They would also have been markedly different from previous Leaving Certificate examinations and from what students and their teachers are familiar with and have been preparing for in terms of structure, format and content, over the past two years. Changes like those would have called into question the validity of the state examinations this year.

The notes of the meetings of the advisory group are available on my Department’s website and are published once approved by the group at subsequent meetings.

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