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Leaving Cert: Polymetrika was paid €91,500 above agreed cost for work after daily rate kicked in at end of contract

To date, €163,000 has been paid to Polymetrika for the calculated grades system.

After the decision was made that the Leaving Certificate would not be taking place, there was
After the decision was made that the Leaving Certificate would not be taking place, there was "insufficient time in which to run a normal, full procurement process", said the department.
Image: MAXWELLS DUBLIN

POLYMETRIKA INTERNATIONAL – the company that developed the calculated Leaving Certificate code – was paid an additional €91,500 above the agreed cost as €1,100 was charged for any additional days outside the contract.

The Department of Education has also confirmed that after the decision was made that the Leaving Certificate would not be taking place, there was “insufficient time in which to run a normal, full procurement process”.

Instead, the department availed of the procurement process known as the Negotiated Procedure without Prior Publication, which is used in circumstances “where it is a case of extreme urgency”.

As part of contingency planning for the Leaving Certificate 2020, the State Examinations Commission hired Polymetrika to develop the code used to calculate the grades.

Polymetrika was contracted to provide statistical and psychometric expertise, initially on the basis of contingency planning in the event of the Leaving Certificate not taking place as planned.

The value of that contract was €71,500 to cover 65 days.

However, to date, €163,000 has been paid to Polymetrika under the contract.

The department said the increase in cost is due to any additional days outside the contract being charged at €1,100 per day.

The decision to call off the Leaving Cert this year and operate the calculated grades system was made on 8 May.

“Polymetrika played an integral part of the development and running of the Calculated Grades model, and as such the contract for Polymetrika was extended to implement the Calculated Grades model under the pre-agreed terms of the contract,” said a department spokesperson.

“As such, this expenditure reflects their work in both the contingency planning and the development and statistical work around the operation of the model,” they added.

It emerged yesterday that about 7,200 Leaving Cert grades have been affected by the errors in the Leaving Cert calculated grades system.

The precise number of students who will receive higher grades will not be available until the process is completed, but it is likely to be in the region of 6,500. No student will receive a reduced grade in any subject as a result of this process.

Education Minister Norma Foley made the announcement after it was revealed by Taoiseach Micheál Martin earlier today that two errors were identified in the system, one identified by private company Polymetrika and the second by Department of Education officials.

Foley said the Canadian company Polymetrika International spotted that one line of code out of 50,000 lines had a mistake in it and that it would impact the results of some students.

The department added that the normal procurement procedure could not be adhered to as in order for the calculated grades model to be of value to students, results had to be issued by early September, to make Irish and international deadlines for entry to higher and further education.

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“Polymetrika has recognised expertise in what is a highly technical and specialised field.

“Its principal, Mr Cartwright is a former senior researcher at the Canadian Council for Learning and also worked with Statistics Canada.

“Mr Cartwright has worked in Ireland in the past and has an established relationship both with the Educational Research Centre and the Department of Education and Skills, and has an understanding of the Irish education system,” said a department spokesperson.

Polymetrika initially had been engaged in an advisory capacity on the technical working group which was established as part of contingency planning for the 2020 Leaving Certificate. However, the company was then engaged to implement and deliver the system when the decision was taken to postpone the exam.

“The only way to achieve the goal of issuing calculated grades to students in the time available was to use an expert provider that is trusted, that had the skills and expertise to do the job and understood the Irish system,” said the spokesperson.

In addition, the Education Research Centre carried out a number of checks, including a sample check of the coding used in the standardisation process, they added.

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