Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Education and Skills
249. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the date on which the appeals process for leaving certificate 2020 students will be complete and all results available; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30011/20]
251. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the 2020 leaving certificate appeals process was closed before all errors in the grading mechanisms were identified; if so, if students will have another opportunity to appeal decisions in the way in which they were graded; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30013/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 251 together.
The Calculated Grades Student Portal reopened on 14 September to allow students to view their estimated percentage marks and calculated marks and to submit an appeal for any of their Calculated Grades.
The appeals process is a process review focussed on looking for errors in the transmission and processing of student data through the process. It is not possible to appeal the information (estimated percentage mark or rank order) provided by the school. Due to the nature of the Calculated Grades system the professional judgement of the school is outside of the appeals process. The design of the statistical model and the application of the national standardisation process is also outside of the scope of the appeals process.
At the time of closing the appeal application process on Wednesday 16September, some 12,300 students had appealed almost 33,700 grades.
The appeals process is continuing as normal following the announcements on 30 September and 03 October regarding errors found in the Calculated Grades model. This applies whether or not a student received an improved grade following the rectification of the errors. This is because the appeals process is a technical appeal, focussed on looking for errors in the transmission and processing of student data through the process.
The results of Stage 1 and 2 appeals will be made available in the coming days.
The third stage of the appeals process, on option to have the process reviewed by independent appeal scrutineers, will commence after the release of Stage 1 and Stage 2 appeals results. It is not possible to provide an expedited appeal for any student or group of students. All appeals will be processed and results released simultaneously to ensure fairness and equity to all.
The CAO will be automatically notified by the Department of the outcomes of the appeals process.
If, as a result of an upgrade, a student becomes eligible for a college place at a higher CAO preference than the one they were already offered, they will be eligible for that course.
It is not possible to guarantee at this stage that, following a successful appeal, a student will be able to take up such a place offered in the academic year 2020/21. This depends on factors such as the number of appeals received, the nature of the appeal, and the higher education course being applied for. However, where possible, higher education institutions will attempt to facilitate students who are upgraded and receive a new offer.
250. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she is satisfied that all instances in which students were incorrectly marked for the 2020 leaving certificate have been identified; the number of those affected; if the CAO rounds of offers were made while errors in the grading were being identified; if so, the number of students who missed out on a place in third-level education as a result; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30012/20]
The Leaving Certificate system has a well-established practice of not reducing the marks or grades of students who have not appealed their results, but who through an appeal by another student or other systemic check are identified as somebody who received higher marks or grades than were merited.
In keeping with that principle, and mindful of the fact that the mistake was not the students’ mistake, students who received higher grades as a result of the errors in the Calculated Grades system will not be downgraded. The Leaving Certificate results of these students will remain unchanged as they do every year in these circumstances.
The CAO system operates on behalf of the higher education institutions solely on the basis of the Leaving Certificate results that candidates have been awarded.
Therefore, the CAO cannot differentiate within the group of candidates with the 2020 Leaving Certificate, just as the CAO cannot treat a 2019 Leaving Certificate candidate differently from a 2020 one. The CAO process for 2020 has been undertaken on that basis and there is no scope for the CAO to re-assess the selection of students for higher education programmes on the basis of any information that does not relate to the formal results of the Leaving Certificate in 2020 or any other year.
There has been an increase in the numbers of available places in colleges this year so that improved CAO offers can be made to all candidates who benefitted from upgraded Leaving Certificate results. There were also extensive additional higher education places in 2020 – the most places ever offered – and the Department of Further and Higher Education and the higher education institutions are fully committed to providing further places to accommodate all students who are entitled to improved CAO offers.
Of the 485 candidates who received improved CAO offers last week, some of them will move from one course to another and this will create the potential for further offers to other candidates in succeeding rounds of the CAO. This will mean an overall increase in the numbers of students in third-level education.
252. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the dates on which the first calculated grades were made in relation to the 2020 leaving certificate results; the date on which the rounds of CAO offers were made; the date on which errors were discovered; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30014/20]
The decision to adopt a model of Calculated Grades by my Department was a direct result of COVID-19, which prevented the state from running the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations.
The information requested by the Deputy set out in the following table.
|7 September||Calculated Grades results provided to students|
|11 September||CAO Round 1 offers released|
|14 September||Applications for appeals for Calculated Grades open|
|14 September||Access for students, via the Calculated Grades Student Portal, to their estimated subject percentage marks from schools and to calculated marks from the Calculated Grades process.|
|16 September||Appeals application process closes at 5pm|
|22 September||Department advised by Polymetrika of inconsistency in how the data in the Calculated Grades model was performing.|
|23 September||- Minister advised of coding error in relation to Calculated Grades standardisation process.- CAO Round 2 offers released|
|28 September||Applications to sit postponed Leaving Certificate examinations open|
|28 September||Access for students via the Calculated Grades Student Portal to their class rank order in each subject from the Calculated Grades process.|
|30 September||The Minister announced that two errors had been found in the Leaving Certificate 2020 Calculated Grades process, relating to the way in which the coding for the process utilised Junior Cycle data.|
|1 October||CAO Round 3 offers released|
|3 October||The Minister, following a further review of the coding by an independent third party, announced that a third coding error had been identified, that all three errors had been corrected, following which 6,100 students received higher grades.|
|7 October||Applications to sit postponed Leaving Certificate examinations closed|
|8 October||CAO Round 4 offers released|