Questions are being raised over predicted Leaving Certificate grades, with results due to be issued on 7 September, after controversy in Scotland, which also had predicted grading.
Scotland’s education minister, John Swinney, has announced that exam results that were downgraded under the country’s Calculated Grades system will be withdrawn.
Affected students will be given new grades that are based solely on teacher assessments of their performance.
Here, the President of Maynooth University, Philip Nolan, said teachers have worked very hard to allocate fair calculated grades, and it is important the grades are comparable to previous years.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney, Prof Nolan said he would like to know what exactly the issue in Scotland is and how the errors occurred.
He said the Department of Education has been alert to the possibility of disadvantaging students and has put safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen.
Irish Second-Level Students’ Union President Reuban Murray said it was important that the department looks at what has happened in Scotland and learns lessons from it.
He said no one can judge the process until the results are released, but the fundamental values of it have been based on equity and fairness.
Speaking on the same programme, Mr Murray said there needs to be more clarity around the appeals process and said those guidelines have not fully been communicated to students and they are trusting their educators and the department to deliver a fair system.
People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith warned that there is a danger the algorithms will go against those from a disadvantaged background and all students should be able to apply to third-level institutions.
She said many students would be automatically excluded from applying because they cannot afford college fees, adding that those who cannot keep up in the course in the first year “would soon be found out”.
Earlier, Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin said the system should “bend until it cracks” in order to prevent a student in a disadvantaged situation not being able to make their way through the school system.
Mr Ó Ríordáin said Scotland’s experience of calculated grades shows that disadvantaged students had a disproportionate number of marks reduced and he is concerned the situation might be repeated in Ireland.
He said Labour did not call for the Leaving Cert to be cancelled or postponed because the party was not sure a fair system could replace it, but it did raise concerns when a school profiling element was included in the calculated grading system.
Mr Ó Riordáin said that if a similar situation to Scotland arises in Ireland immediate measures must be taken to correct it.