Written Answers. - Junior Certificate Examination.

Gay Mitchell

Question:

937 Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education and Science if the case of a dyslexic person (details supplied) in Dublin 12 will be examined in relation to her junior certificate examination in June 1999; if her special circumstances will be taken into account and allowed for; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1329/99]

The objective in making special arrangements at the certificate examination for students, who have either specific learning difficulties or difficulties which arise from a physical or medical condition, is to ensure as far as possible that such candidates are enabled to demonstrate at the examination their level of ability. I am sure the Deputy will agree that, in the interests of equity and fairness across the entire body of candidates and indeed to ensure the credibility of the examination system the work done by students must ultimately be assessed according to the same strictly objective criteria. This is achieved by having a common marking scheme apply to the work of all candidates in a subject and at the same time by ensuring that every effort is made to ensure that full credit is given in accordance with that marking scheme for the work done.

The particular concerns expressed in the information supplied by the Deputy relate to difficulties over presentation, which can arise in work submitted for examination by students with specific learning difficulties, and also the time allowed to complete each test. Traditionally where concerns relating to the presentation of work have been expressed they have been brought to the attention of the individual examiner. This approach is intended to ensure that notwithstanding any presentational or readability difficulties every effort is made by the examiner to ensure that the candidate is given full credit for all work done. However in the event of the examiner encountering difficulty he or she is instructed to send the answer book to his or her supervising examiner.
This year my Department has moved to strengthen this arrangement by instructing all examiners who have a difficulty in accessing the information given by a candidate to refer the script to their supervising examiner. The intention is to ensure that problems with readability and presentation whether or not brought to the attention of the Department are dealt with by the examiner and that no candidate is disadvantaged. Every effort will continue to be made to ensure that full credit is given for work presented and in 1999 examiners will, as in previous years, be required to apply the agreed marking schemes consistently to all candidates in order to ensure equity and fairness.