Leaving Certificate predicted grades system found to contain significant errors

Image Credit: Laoise Tarrant

Two errors found in the coding system which was used in the standardization process of Leaving Certificate grades.

This information was announced on the 30th of September by Minister for Education, Norma Foley. This announcement was made over three weeks after the initial results came out, on September 7th. The error was found by Canadian firm Polymetrika International. It affected how students’ Junior Certificate grades were included in the calculation process. These errors resulted in 6,100 students receiving lower grades than they should have. 

On Monday 5th of October, a third error was found which has led to almost 8,000 students receiving a higher grade than they should have. Foley has stated that no student will suffer consequences from the coding errors. The Labour Party have called for an enquiry into the coding system to establish if there are any further errors. US firm ETS has now been employed to look into additional errors within the coding system. 

Students affected by their grades being lowered as a result of the error were to receive notice of this on Sunday, 4th of October. However, some students failed to receive justification of the changes from grades submitted by teachers. 

Since the announcement was made in May by previous Minister for Education Joe McHugh that students were to receive predicted grades instead of sitting exams, uncertainty has loomed over the class of 2020. This uncertainty has not ended for some. 

Around 6,000 students received a grade increase on Sunday. This is good news for the students who may have missed out on CAO offers due to the coding system. Round 1 of the CAO offers came out on the 11th of September, with the majority of college places filled by now. Up to 450 students will be hoping for a new CAO offer in Round 4 on the 8th of October as a result of a grade increase. It is reported that some colleges will authorise the CAO to issue offers to applicants that received an upgrade. 

It will be difficult to allocate new places on high demand courses, such as Medicine and Dentistry. Students may have to defer until next year, said Norma Foley. Some 2,500 students have applied to the Department to sit their exams starting November 16th. Professor Kerstin McKay, President of the University of Limerick has said while every effort will be made to accommodate extra students onto their programmes, “it may not be possible to accommodate everyone.” 

Technological University Dublin President, Professor David Fitzpatrick, has said his University would make every effort to ensure these students are accommodated on their chosen courses as much as they can. Fitzpatrick has also said that students hoping for courses with mandatory placements, such as health and education related courses, will struggle the most to receive an offer for this year. He said dialogue is required with providers of placements to see what can be achieved for these students. 

UCD are yet to comment on how they hope to accommodate any students receiving an offer in round 4.