Mark Coughlan does a good job outlining the events of the past week, with reports in the papers apparently confirming grade inflation. Coincidentally, I was googling on the topic around the same time Mark was writing his article.
My working theory was that this was not a new problem (few things are in Ireland) only that it didn’t become a political issue until a multinational employer raised it.
Don’t believe me? Check the following:
“There is a significant body of opinion, both in the enterprise community and among academics that standards have declined in the Irish education system over the past decade, both at second and third level. Empirical evidence to support this perception is contained in an earlier submission to the YES review9. This decline has occurred despite the fact that the distribution of grades awarded has remained roughly constant over this time through the phenomenon known as “Grade Inflation”. This trend must be strongly countered.”
Forfás Submission to the Minister for Education and Science on the YES Review, September 2004
“There has been significant grade inflation in HETAC awards in the period studied – from 1998-2002. This problem also exists in the University sector. Grade inflation at third level has occurred against a backdrop of grade inflation at Leaving Certificate level and a drop in the minimum entry requirements for third level courses.”
Martin O’Grady, Dr Brendan Guilfoyle, Michael Galvin, Simon Quinn and Dr Joan Cleary, Grade Inflation in HETAC Awards, April 7, 2005.
“Given the dramatic nature of the increase in higher grades awarded in the Universities and the weaknesses in the case that such increases are due to improved learning in more recent years, grade inflation seems unavoidable as an explanation.”
Martin O’Grady and Brendan Guilfoyle, Grade Inflation in Irish Universities (1994 – 2004), March 2007
In case you’re interested, the most recent ministers for education were Batt O’Keeffe (2008-?), Mary Hanafin (2004-2008), Noel Dempsey (2002-2004) Michael Woods (2000-2002) and Micheál Martin (1997-2000).
Finally, for anyone wondering why there is grade inflation, all I can do is recommend reading this post by Scofflaw on boards.ie. Note that this was posted six weeks ago.
[I’ve written more than 200 words today. Call it word inflation.]