Saturday 23 September 2017

Missing exam pages cause confusion in latest blunder

Laura Kinsman (left), from Glenageary, with the replacement paper, and Ali Foley, from Blackrock, with the original accountancy
higher-level paper which was missing questions, pictured at St Andrew's College, Booterstown, Dublin
Laura Kinsman (left), from Glenageary, with the replacement paper, and Ali Foley, from Blackrock, with the original accountancy higher-level paper which was missing questions, pictured at St Andrew's College, Booterstown, Dublin
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

EXAM chiefs have been left red-faced once again after Leaving Certificate accountancy candidates were yesterday handed papers with pages missing.

Teachers said the latest blunder caused confusion and upset, and was unfair to all candidates.

The error affected 207 higher-level candidates in 16 schools, who opened their accounting papers to find four of the eight pages missing.

The problem affected schools in south county Dublin, where candidates were given extra time to finish the exam after complete papers were rushed out by fax or email.

One of the schools affected was St Andrew's, Booterstown, where students were given an extra 15 minutes to complete the exam.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) advised superintendents to make extra time available as appropriate, and to take into account the delay in receiving a set of full papers.

Benefit

Aine Ni Cheidigh, of the ASTI and Ard Scoil Ris, Griffith Avenue, Dublin, said all students were disadvantaged by the blunder.

She said students who received incomplete papers didn't have the full range of questions in front of them at the start, and wouldn't know what questions to choose.

Not all schools gave the same amount of extra time and students who got the complete paper to begin with didn't have the benefit of any extra time, she said.

The Irish Second-Level Students Union (ISSU) said it was unacceptable and added to students' stress and anxiety.

It is the latest in a series of embarrassing production errors to hit the leaving and junior certificate exams this year, although the SEC says there has been no more this year than other years.

Last week, the SEC had to apologise after the Junior Certificate business higher-level paper contained incorrect figures in a cash-flow forecast question, while the Junior Certificate German higher-level paper also had a misprint.

The SEC put the absence of pages five to eight in some exam papers yesterday down to a production error.

The missing pages included all of section 2 and part of section 3. After being alerted, the SEC gave an instruction that students should start the exam using the original paper provided and be given the correct version as soon as it became available.

The SEC last night apologised to schools and students and said it was "an unfortunate fact that errors can occur on examination papers". The statement added: "It is the aspiration of any examining body, including the SEC, to preside over a system that is completely error free.

"However, it is recognised, in examining circles, that this will always be an aspiration rather than a completely achievable goal."

Irish Independent

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