Right to ap­peal a Leav­ing Cert grade

Irish Examiner - - Opinion -

Leav­ing Cert cal­cu­lated grades will be is­sued on Fri­day. Nor­mally, a can­di­date can have scripts re-marked. Not so this year. The glar­ing anom­aly is that the cal­cu­lated grade can­not be ap­pealed, only the pa­per trail which led to the grade awarded — a se­ries of checks that the data was cor­rectly en­tered at school level, cor­rectly trans­ferred to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills (DES) and a re­view to es­tab­lish that the data was cor­rectly re­ceived and pro­cessed by the DES. There is no fa­cil­ity to ap­peal the cal­cu­lated grade awarded. This is a fun­da­men­tal de­nial of a can­di­date’s right to due process. A can­di­date, who lodges an ap­peal, should be en­ti­tled to know if the mark sub­mit­ted to the DES by her/his school has been re­duced. If so, on what grounds has it been re­duced? The school has al­ready un­der­taken three de­tailed steps in ar­riv­ing at the mark be­fore re­turn­ing it to the DES. That mark is the most ac­cu­rate cal­cu­la­tion avail­able of the can­di­date’s en­ti­tle­ment in the sub­ject, as de­cided by those who are best placed to make it.

Any at­tempt by the DES to re­duce the mark so that it com­plies with the ‘nor­mal curve’ in ab­nor­mal times should take into con­sid­er­a­tion that the can­di­date is not an el­e­ment of raw data but a young per­son with feel­ings, emo­tions, anx­i­eties and dreams. An ex­am­ple makes my point. A H4 Grade, 60% but less than 70%, in higher-level Ir­ish is a min­i­mum en­try re­quire­ment for pri­mary teach­ing. The school sub­mits a mark of 61%. If, af­ter a process of sta­tis­ti­cal stan­dard­i­s­a­tion based on pre­vi­ous years’ re­sults, the mark is re­duced by DES to 59%, a H5 Grade, the can­di­date’s am­bi­tion to be­come a pri­mary teacher is cru­elly dashed with no right to ap­peal. On be­half of Leav­ing Cert can­di­dates, I ap­peal to the DES to ‘tread softly be­cause you tread on my dreams’ (W B Yeats).

Billy Ryle Tralee Co Kerry

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