Leav­ing cal­cu­lated grades and gen­der bias

The Irish Times - - Comment & Letters -

Sir, – Prof Pat O’Con­nor rightly points out that the process this year of award­ing es­ti­mated Leav­ing Cer­tifi­cate grades may con­tain some built-in bi­ases (“Leav­ing Cert cal­cu­lated grades open to dan­ger of gen­der bias”, Opin­ion & Anal­y­sis, July 1st).

She points out that fe­male stu­dents may be at a dis­ad­van­tage. This may well be the case (al­though I hope not).

How­ever, the avail­able ev­i­dence – such as it is – sug­gests that the bias may run the other way, and that male stu­dents may be at a dis­ad­van­tage.

In a re­cent sum­mary doc­u­ment out­lin­ing the pos­si­ble bi­ases as­so­ci­ated with es­ti­mat­ing A-level grades, the Royal Sta­tis­ti­cal

So­ci­ety in the UK has high­lighted some ev­i­dence that boys do bet­ter in ex­ams than in course­work and that this may af­fect pre­dicted grades.

The so­ci­ety ex­pressed sim­i­lar con­cerns re­gard­ing stu­dents from eth­nic-mi­nor­ity groups.

For this rea­son, it is im­por­tant for the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion to put in place ro­bust, ev­i­dence-based sta­tis­ti­cal mod­els to screen for such bi­ases. – Yours, etc,

Dr LEN­NON

Ó NÁRAIGH,

School of Math­e­mat­ics and Statis­tics, Univer­sity Col­lege Dublin, Belfield,

Dublin 4.

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