THE news that the Department of Education is not relying on schools’ previous performance in its standardisation process for predicted Leaving Certificate results has been welcomed in Cork.
Kevin Barry, of Coláiste Éamann Rís, a Deis school in Cork city, believes the UK “fiasco” led to the department scrambling to avoid the same embarrassment.
“It’s good news that they’re compensating and making it less discriminatory,” he said.
The average reduction in marks following standardisation is 0.8% in Deis schools, while the reduction is 1.3% in non-Deis schools. In Deis schools, 81.2% of grades are unchanged while in non-Deis schools the figure is 79.4%.
“For some time now I have had serious concerns about the use of school by school historical data,” Minister for Education Norma Foley said.
At a briefing yesterday, Ms Foley confirmed that the department has dropped plans to use a school’s previous academic record to assess this year’s grades. The predicted grades of teachers will now carry more weight.
Mr Barry said the previous system, which relied on a schools’ previous performance, “was designed to maintain or promote discrimination against schools from underprivileged or disadvantaged backgrounds”.
“That really blew up in the face of the UK politicians and the department of education over there because, as soon as the results came out, people realised that the whole thing was destructive and discriminatory,” he said.
“The Department of Education, in my view, has been making every effort to be seen as different to the UK model.”
Richard Terry, a history and maths teacher in St Colman’s College in Fermoy and a member of ASTI’s Fermoy branch, said the news also highlighted the good work from teachers.
“I imagine the Department of Education changed its approach in the wake of the controversy in the UK, which I think is a positive thing,” said Mr Terry.
“We won’t know everything until the results come out next week but it is heartening to see the vast majority of students receive grades their teachers predicted.
“It stands to the teaching profession as a whole that, with this task suddenly heaped upon them, the vast majority of teachers made this professional judgement that stood.”
Meanwhile, there was an increase in 5% of grades in Deis schools compared to a 3.7% increase in non-Deis schools.
Less than 1% of grades were reduced by two or more grades in both Deis and non-Deis schools.
The measures were approved by Cabinet yesterday ahead of the Leaving Cert results being released next week.