Friday 15 December 2017

Experts don't see answers, LC exam chiefs say

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

THE controversy continues over problems with the Leaving Certificate economics paper as exam chiefs confirm that university experts with an advisory role didn't actually see the answers.

As revealed in the Irish Independent, a number of academic economists have criticised answers allowed in the 2008, 2012 and 2013 higher-level economics papers and have written to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) expressing their disquiet.

The SEC has dismissed concerns raised by Dr Kevin Denny, University College Dublin (UCD), about the 2012 paper, and by Dr Aedin Doris of NUI Maynooth, about an answer in the 2008 paper that was repeated in 2013.

Writing in the Irish Independent yesterday, Dr Stephen Kinsella, senior lecturer in Economics, University of Limerick, said his colleagues' concerns raised issues about the curriculum as it is currently being taught.

The SEC explained to the Irish Independent that it is normal practice to invite university experts to review papers in all the subjects that they accept for entry to their colleges.

The exams body asks Trinity College Dublin and the National University of Ireland (NUI) college – the umbrella body for UCD, UCC, NUI Maynooth, NUI Galway – to nominate a representative.


According to the SEC, the role of the university representatives is to verify to the university authorities that the examinations meet their requirements.

However, the SEC has also confirmed that while such experts review the economics paper at some point in the preparation process, they do not necessarily see the answers.

Answers, or examples of acceptable answers, are provided in what is known as the marking scheme.

The SEC said that "at the time when the university representatives reviewed the economics papers, the marking schemes would have been at an intermediate stage of development and therefore they reviewed the exam papers only".

The exams body added that discussion takes place with the chief examiner around the draft marking scheme in relation to possible answers, or points that might be expected and accepted for the various questions.

They pointed out that marking schemes are working documents and while a draft is prepared in advance of the exams, it is not finalised until after the exams.

Irish Independent

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