Thursday, 20 November 1941
Dáil Éireann Debate
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Education if he will state whether each question paper prepared by an examiner is submitted for criticism and approval to competent people before being printed, and whether this was done in the case of the Intermediate Certificate Greek, 1941; whether the examiner is constantly in touch with the assistant examiners, and, if so, if he will state how an incorrect and severe standard could have been adopted in the marking of the Intermediate Certificate Greek this year, and what explanation has been forthcoming of the occurrence of the alleged severe and incorrect standard adopted.
Mr. Derrig: The draft question papers are submitted for criticism to a small committee—consisting usually of the inspectors who deal with the particular subjects in the schools, and this procedure was followed in the case of the Greek papers. The advising examiner, at a conference prior to the marking, indicates to his assistant examiners the standard of marking to be adopted and he keeps in touch with them during the marking. In the case of Greek the incorrect standard which was adopted was due to an error of judgment on the part of the advising examiner. He attributes his failure to observe the departure from the general standard of previous years mainly to the fact that the two papers in the subject were marked by different examiners and that he was not aware of the general results as represented by the combined marks of the two papers. The combining of the marks is not carried out until all the marked answer books are received back in the Department.
General Mulcahy: Will the Minister say how long after the circulation of the provisional lists the examiner came to the conclusion that he had made a wrong judgment in the matter; and can he say if there were any special circumstances that led up to his coming to that conclusion?
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Education if he will state whether representations were made to him from some schools in connection with the marking of the Greek paper, Intermediate Certificate Examination, 1941, and whether it was as a result of these representations that the marking was increased by 10 per cent.
Mr. Derrig: Representations were received from a small number of schools regarding the results in the case of Greek in the Intermediate Certificate. Prior to their receipt, however, an investigation of the standard of marking in the subject had been initiated, and it was as a result of this investigation rather than as a result of the representations made that the decision to increase the marks was made.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Education if he will state when the system of issuing provisional lists of the Intermediate Certificate Examination marks was introduced; whether the recent increasing of the Greek by 10 per cent. was the first time since the introduction of provisional lists that in relation to any subject a drastic alteration of marks was made by adding a percentage increase all round either before or after the issue of the provisional lists, and, if not, if he will state the year, the subjects, and the nature of such drastic changes and the reasons for them.
Mr. Derrig: In the years immediately preceding 1931 it was not found possible, owing to the gradual increase in the number of candidates, to have the final results issued, as formerly, by the beginning of September and it was then arranged, after consultation with school authorities, to issue provisional results to the individual schools for  their convenience in the formation of classes. This arrangement came into operation for the first time in 1931. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that in the interval since 1931 the number of candidates at the certificate examinations has increased from 5,821 to 11,361.
Although it has been found necessary from time to time to revise the marking of individual assistant examiners who had departed from the standard laid down, this is the first occasion since the introduction of provisional lists on which a general revision of marks was made by adding a percentage, either before or after the issue of those lists. Before the introduction of these lists, however, such general revisions were occasionally made, the most recent being in 1928; the subject on that occasion was mathematics. When the marks were examined the high percentage of failures and low percentage of honours made it clear that too high a standard had been exacted. To remedy this all the intermediate certificate marks were increased in a manner similar to that adopted in the present instance.
Mr. Derrig: It was not by way of a percentage added to the number of marks: it was by way of a flat rate of marks added to candidates who obtained a certain percentage. I think the percentage was 25 per cent. The marks of all candidates who obtained 25 per cent. or more at the original marking were increased by 30 marks, and the marks of the candidates who got less than 25 per cent. were increased by 20 per cent. The pass standard was then 30 per cent., and the addition of 30 marks to those who had got 25 per cent. raised their marks to the pass standard.
Risteárd Ua Maolchatha: asked the Minister for Education if he will state whether any re-examination and change of marks took place in the case of girls examined in Greek in the Intermediate Certificate Examination, 1941, similar to the re-examination and  change of marks that took place for boys; and, if so, if he will state (1) the number who failed in Greek according to the original marking; (2) the number of these who passed in Greek as a result of the increasing of the marks; and (3) the number who would have failed in the general examination as a result of the original Greek marking, but who passed in the general examination as a result of the revised Greek marking.
Mr. Derrig: Only two girl candidates presented themselves for Greek at the Intermediate Certificate Examination and their marks were revised as in the case of the boys. One candidate passed in the subject, the other failed, and there was no change in that position as a result of the revision, nor was there any change in the general result of either candidate.
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