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Education Minister reports on outcome of post-primary test investigation

12 December, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has provided a written report to the Assembly following his Department’s investigation into a security breach involving a post-primary entrance paper sat by Primary Seven children in November 2009.

The security breach was reported to the Department on 29 May 2011 by the Chair of the Catholic Principals Association. The test paper in question was used by grammar schools within the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium for the purposes of deciding admissions to schools in September 2010.

The Minister said: “My main concern is to ensure that children have a smooth transition from primary to post-primary school and I therefore take very seriously anything that has the potential to jeopardise that process. That is why I directed my officials to carry out an investigation into this alleged breach.

“The investigation concluded that, while there had been a breach of post-test security, there was no evidence that any child had either been advantaged or disadvantaged by this breach or that it undermined the admissions process. The investigation concluded, however, that the potential for a serious breach had been demonstrated and still exists.

“I have sought and received assurances from GL Assessment and the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium about future test security and that actions have been taken to strengthen their security arrangements.”

The Minister continued: “Ultimately responsibility for these tests rests with the schools that use them. My Department strongly recommends that schools do not use academic selection on educational grounds, but for those who choose not to follow this advice, guidance on post-primary transfer details the risks involved in using such tests – including responsibilities associated with the security of test papers. Schools should read and understand this guidance.”

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