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Leaving cert exam scripts
Leaving cert exam scripts
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

'The computer is not marking any work': Exams commission confirms examiners will mark exams

The SEC said reports that some subjects would be marked using computers were ‘misleading’.
May 14th 2019, 12:06 PM 25,419 9

THE STATE EXAMINATIONS commission has confirmed leaving and junior certificate exams will be marked by examiners this year following reports that they would be marked by computers. 

The SEC said reports that some subjects would be marked using computers were ‘misleading’ and that all exams will continue to be marked by examiners, and “not by a computer”. 

Instead, new software will be used to assist examiners, who can now view and mark exam scripts on computers instead of the traditional hard-copy marking process. 

In a statement it said: “The SEC can advise that the information widely reported today in relation to online marking of the certificate examinations is misleading.

“Online marking involves scanned images of examination scripts being marked by examiners on a computer, not by a computer.  The computer is not marking any work.

“All candidate work is seen and marked by an examiner, as has always been the case.”

In 2016 and 2017, the commission ran a pilot programme to test the new software with examiners who were grading French and English exams at leaving certificate and junior certificate level. 

It said it “eliminated so much of the administrative work involved in paper-based marking” and that it had issued a notice to schools about the move to online marking for selected subjects this year. 

The subject which will now be marked using the new method at leaving cert-level are Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Politics and Society, and modules on the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. 

On the junior cycle, English, French, Science and Business Studies will also be marked using this method.

Recruitment for examiners has been ongoing since last December and examiners in subjects now using the online marking structure have already been informed. 

“The move from a paper based marking model to one which is technology enabled will provide more efficient service delivery and improved turnaround times, improved quality management and enhanced security,” it said. 

Tender

Last month, an award was granted to UK-based company RM Results, following the public tendering of a contract to set up the new scanning and online marking system

Galway based company KPW Business Forms Ltd. – who were involved in the online marking pilot scheme – previously took a High Court case challenging the SEC’s decision to award the tender, worth €5 million, to another company. 

The tender was later dropped and the company then initiated proceedings to recoup legal costs it had incurred from taking the High Court action.

The judge ruled in their favour and ordered the SEC to pay the costs. 

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Conor McCrave

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