That pot Kenny show on Newstalk. There's less than a week to go until leaving cert, students around the country received their results and they're calculated grades.
Now, after the chaos in the U.K., we saw students from weaker schools being marginalized. There's extra pressure on the department to get it right.
The Minister for Education, Norman Foley, presented her plans to cabinet yesterday. Brian Mooney, education columnist and editor of Education Matters, is on the line now.
Brian, good morning. Good morning. What more do we know about the process here that is very different to the process there?
Well, as I say in my op ed piece in The Times this morning in the U.K., the process was about a systems solution. The system had to look well in the Irish situation. They have focused in on building what the model, the algorithm model based on centered on the student itself, the individual students to avoid obviously what happened in the U.K. system where the thing basically blew up and they had to revert to the original teacher grade recommendations.
Now, how come the core of the difference. Yep.
Explain how the junior search results fed into this process.
Well, what they've done is they have gone back and they have looked at the junior search results of each individual student and for who is taking the lead in this year. Right. And then what they did was that they created a virtual class groups. In other words, if you had 30 students who took the junior of geography, for instance, they could have taken it in different years. They could have taken different schools if they were in a grade school.
They probably took it in 30 different schools. And you create a virtual class of those 30. And you look at their performance in geography, say, for instance, in the junior cert, you then take that exact same 30 who are now being assessed by their teacher back in May and June. And you look at their performance in relation to what the teachers recommend, recommend it. And you look at the overall national performance of such a right. In some cases, you might have had a situation where let's take in the junior search and say four of those students got a one in the junior the geography this year, depending on what the teachers assessed grades where we would, the department was looking at what's the percent this year if, for instance, the that the teacher had six students in one category and then moving down because the teachers marked each students in order of achievement as far as they were said, you know, what they taught the students achieve?
Well, that was fine. But if 25 of the students were making it into the one category, the department was then going to reduce those down. And what the what they found when they looked at it was that across the country, there were outliers within individual subjects in certain schools, and there were outliers in which certain schools or institutions gave very, very what they would consider generous grades. And that is where the 17 percent reduction is coming, where effectively those grades have been pulled down to bring them in line, not with the results from previous years, because effectively they have allowed a certain growth.
So the results this year will be better in terms of overall based on these assessed grades by teachers, but not that much better that it will destroy the opportunity for the one third of applicants who did the Leaving CERT in 1980 and 1716 or whatever, who are applying for a place.
Just to clarify this.
Brian, suppose you have, say, four people your age, ones in geography, as you've quoted, and then suddenly it's seven in that cohort get huge ones. You know, one person might have worked really hard to achieve that, maybe two, but hardly three.
So what they're doing is they're actually allowing a margin of error. In other words, they're inflating the things slightly from where maybe it might be if you do that comparison, just to make sure that someone who had a bad day at the office will still get a good grade.
But they're not allowing it for, say, a school that would have submitted where the teacher was overgenerous and basically put, say, a dozen of them or more into the one category. But what will happen is the teacher's assessment in terms of who's first, who's second, who's third will be respected entirely. And the gap in achievement will be also respected so that if a teacher came and gave one student 98 and another shoot, the next student was 75, that would be respected.
Whereas if he was in another school, 98 was followed by ninety seven point five seven years.
So the teacher's assessments have been respected.
It is it has forensic is that that they literally are doing each student by student.
Yes, they're looking at they're looking. That's why they ask the teachers to give an up percentage mark unfair where two students are falling on the same percentage mark. They asked him to go to decimal point to differentiate for which of the two students. So they have from their perspective. Of the teachers assessment of the relative ability of every student within the class, and then they are doing this in terms of a national profile using the junior search results. So everything is student centered, whereas in the UK they looked at the system effect and effectively the individual students got crushed, particularly in disadvantaged schools, and obviously then they had to abandon the whole thing.
Now, 17 percent are going to be reduced and one in six students are supposed to be Bobtown in some way or another.
But still, overall, the grades will be better than last year.
But which is the price?
You and I were talking last week that Des Fitzgerald told us that while still president, if you well, he had been requested to increase the number of places available by five percent in high point courses and that that general request amounts to about 340 additional places and high point courses and 100 places overall between the higher education and further education sector. And that's to allow for that and better results overall than in previous years. So that even though points may go up in the sense that if you didn't have extra places, the last person in the door would have a higher point score mathematically than last year, obviously, because if everybody has better results by creating additional places, you then create three or four more through the door.
So hopefully they're hoping that it'll come down to in the round where the points for last year. So we don't have any bad news stories about inflating point.
I was cheated by these chancers from 20-20 who, you know, got these predicted grades as facilitated by a generous teacher. We don't want that kind of thing.
But the question is, Brian, suppose someone is desperately unhappy. What courts of appeal do they have?
Or does it simply they redo the Leaving CERT in November? When it happens?
There is no court of appeal. The only appeal process is about the paperwork and the teachers were given authorization to destroy all the paperwork in the preparation of their assessment. Now, it didn't specifically say they were to destroy all the copies and everything the students may have done work. And obviously the records still exist in schools. But the agreement was made that there would be no questioning of the teacher's actual percentage grade. Well, that will not be questioned then only questioned whether the process of administration through the system that there was no administrative error.
If you not happy, your only option as of now are my learned friend is down in the courts may have other opinions, but as of now, the only option is to sit and even search in November. If you do get a higher grade, you can replace the one that you've got now and then you can go to college if you have higher points, but not until 2021.
Yeah, I mean, talk about going off the boil if you haven't been in school since March and then you expect that that is a real issue with the performance in November, you know.
Yeah. I mean, how fair would that be?
It just seems to me that it's a lot worse than the normal situation where you have a few days in which you can go in with your teacher and you can go through the paper and see why you got, you know, a lesser grade than you felt your effort on the day deserved here. It's a close book.
It is a closed book, because at this stage, if you were to go back and you were to appeal, how then? But but, you know, I, I am not at all sure that somebody is not going to go to the courts and say that they have a constitutional right now. Somebody did try and go the other day and they were told basically by justice mean and that effectively the calendar for the courts for September is now full and that obviously they're going to have to go to the back of the queue.
And they were told that if they had gone in July or August during the season, when they were told that he might have been able to deal with it. And unfortunately, there are 3000 grades out there in foreign languages, Eastern European languages, etc., where students will not get no grades. And obviously, we did have a case last week that the student won, but that was on a very narrow point of law, which was a student whose parent was their teacher and the parent was a qualified teacher.
Yeah. So that was the only point of law that was clarified that only applied to maybe a dozen people in the entire country. So there are still a lot of people there who won't get a grade, therefore won't possibly get a college offer. And they the only option they have, again, is to sit there even in November if they want to grade in that subject.
So we will watch that space to see how many unhappy people there are and how many unhappy people there are.
And Martin says, isn't the real issue, the relative results and the numbers getting each grade? There's no point in having an absolutely great result if loads of people do better than you, you know, and that is true.
That's the whole point. That's why they have standardized I mean, I said two weeks ago, let's use the teachers results and ring fence the places for this year to even start, say, two thirds and one third for previous years. The only reason that couldn't work was that the grading. Was not uniform by teachers throughout the system, you know, individual subjects in a school were out of line and certain institutions and schools were way out of line. And effectively, if you'd accepted every teacher's assessment, then it would have been unfair in that the teachers who are generous would be providing college offers for those students and others who might fairly have should have got the place, wouldn't.
So that's why the standardization process has been brought in. But that standardization process has been allowing for a certain inflation in grades. But hopefully they're hoping that it will be matched with a similar five percent increase in the high point points. So the points stay relatively where they are last year, and that when the officers come out next Friday week on the 11th, that the student who anticipated getting a place will and that we won't get a blow up. And a lot of very disappointed young people.
No doubt, Brian, we will be talking about the fallout from all of this, the good, the bad and the ugly. And when it happens, Brian Mooney, education columnist and editor of Education Matters. Thank you very much. Now.