Written Answers. - State Examinations.

Liz McManus


46 Ms McManus asked the Minister for Education and Science his views on the fact that the results of almost 2,000 leaving certificates were upgraded following appeals; the steps he is taking to ensure that marking of papers is consistent, thus averting the need for appeals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21756/02]

In recent years a number of measures have been introduced aimed at ensuring that the level of error is kept to a minimum, and that where errors occur, they are detected and remedied as quickly as possible. In particular, leaving certificate candidates are now afforded the opportunity to view their scripts both before and after the re-marking process. In addition, a candidate who is unhappy with the outcome of the appeal process may get formal confirmation from an examination commissioner that all appeal processes were carried out properly. Examination commissioners are drawn from a panel of persons independent of the Department who are invited to act as commissioners.

Earlier this year a working group, which consisted of some inspectors who are chief examiners as well as teachers who have considerable experience as chief advising and advising examiners, was established to conduct a comprehensive review of monitoring procedures. This working group made a number of recommendations, all of which have been implemented for the 2002 marking and appeal processes.

In 2002 almost 60,000 leaving certificate candidates were examined in some 800,000 components leading to the award of approximately 390,000 grades in 31 subjects. It is acknowledged in examination systems all over the world that some level of error may occur, as examiners apply detailed marking schemes to student's work and particularly where the marking process is on a large scale. My Department is constantly reviewing its procedures to ensure as far as practicable that the number of errors is minimised. In the final analysis, however, my Department cannot guarantee a completely error free system but the objective is to minimise the potential for error and to ensure that when errors occur they are quickly identified and remedied.