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Thousands may have received higher Leaving Cert grades than they should, Minister says

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It is possible that thousands of students may have received higher grades than they out to due to errors in the calculated grades coding , the Minister for Edication told the Dáil on Thursday.

In addition to the 6,500 students who received lower grades than they ought to Norma Foley said it was possible that a similar number of students may have received higher grades than expected. They will keep their higher grade.

Asked by Solidarity TD Mick Barry if these students’ inflated grades could have “squeezed out” some students from their chosen CAO courses, Ms Foley said: “That’s absolutely very possible.”

A full review of the calculated grades process will be conducted, Ms Foley has told the Dáil as she again apologised to Leaving Certificate students for the errors in coding “that should not have occurred”.

Students who receive an alternative college offer can continue in their current course for the year. “They remain eligible for free fees and Susi funding as if they were starting college for the first time.”

She told the Dáil that registration for the Leaving Certificate will be extended from 5pm on Friday until Wednesday next.

Ms Foley added that “any student entitled to a different offer will receive this offer or a deferred offer as soon as practicable”. And she said that if they want to defer an offer they should contact the college.

Some students received a higher grade. “They will not be affected in any way their higher grade stands.

Those who received a lower grade ill have their proper grade restored. “When all our checks are completed we will issue the corrected results to the students affected.”

Every student will be informed by text whether they are affected or not. If they are impacted they will get a new statement of provisional results in the calculated grades student portal.

Ms Foley defended the timing of the release of information and said they it was revealed as soon as information was made available.

Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh O Laoghaire how Polymetrika got the contract Ms Foley said the company had been engaged to advise on calculated grades in May and the department availed of a negotiated procurement procedure to appoint the company.

Ms Foley said “we are going to move might and main” to “ensure that students will be in a position to receive offers in this academic year”.

She said she wanted to ensure that “we deliver for the students”.

Earlier the Dáil was told that the coding error in the Leaving Certificate calculated grades system was identified when the person involved in modelling the coding was working on the Applied Leaving Certificate results.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan defended the delay in making the information public against criticism that it was the latest instalment of the Government’s “fiasco factory”.

Mr Ryan also said the exact number of students affected by the errors in the predicted Leaving Certificate grading system will only be known when a new model is run with a revised code which has been checked to ensure no further errors.

And he said the Leaving Certificate exam would go ahead next year. The class of 2021 was having a “different experience” in Covid-affected classrooms.

“The message to the upcoming Leaving Cert students is that there will be Leaving Cert exams next May and June”.

Mr Ryan also said the second round of Leaving Certificate offers went ahead last Wednesday because it was unclear if the coding error would have any effect on the CAO process.

He understood that a further CAO offer will be made “towards the end of next week” . That was “the best advice” they had as to how long it would take to sort out the grading error.

They will not know the exact numbers until the revised code is wrong and checks are made but he believed it would be less than 1,000 students.

Last year about 3,000 students got an upgrade and 600 students got a different college choice. It was a case where the students sought an upgrade. “In this instance it is random.”

Unacceptable

Answering leaders’ questions in the Dáil, Mr Ryan said the error was identified during checks on the Applied Leaving Certificate, a vocationally oriented version of the exam.

Under intense opposition pressure Mr Ryan insisted that “no one was kept in the dark on this” in the controversy over the discovery of two errors in the grading system that affects the grades of more than 6,000 students.

Mr Ryan asked TDs to consider if the issue had been published before all the information was available it would have create real anguish and anxiety he said.

Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín described the controversy as the latest instalment of the Government’s “fiasco factory”.

He asked: “Did the company make this mistake? Is it consequently liable for the financial costs that will accrue to the State or did the Department give the incorrect directions? Will the taxpayer be left pick up the costs again?”

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