Written Answers. - Certificate Annotation.

Gerry Reynolds

Question:

1009 Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Education and Science if he will reverse the decision to annotate the certificates of students with specific learning difficulties who avail of arrangements, such as answering on tape or availing of the services of a reader, in view of the fact this does not amount to a substantial alteration of the examination methods. [19712/00]

This year the concept of modification of the national standard assessment was introduced in order to accommodate the requirements of special needs students. This was a significant advance in the inclusiveness of our examination system. In essence it allowed us to depart from a situation where a special needs student could be penalised by being required to undergo assessment in an element of an examination which was beyond his or her physical capacity. For example, the aural component of a language examination is clearly problematical for a deaf candidate and the new special arrangements means that exemption from that component is possible in the case of such students.

Where this greater flexibility and responsiveness means that an element of the examination is not assessed, as with all matters relating to the certificate examinations, this must occur openly and transparently. In the present year the provisional results issued to students were annotated in accordance with these principles.

I can assure the Deputy that neither the leaving nor junior certificate results contained any reference to a candidate's disability. These provisional results did do no more than provide factual information on the actual assessment.

Decisions in relation to special arrangements are taken having regard to the circumstances of each individual case. My Department takes these decisions in the first instance within a published framework of principles. I should stress that I have also ensured the availability of an independent appeal forum where a student is unhappy with any aspect of my Department's decision.