Right to appeal a Leaving Cert grade
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