Education officials handed some secondary school students the highest possible assessment marks in certain subjects, even though the pupils did not attend classes last year, according to reports to the teachers’ union.

An inquiry is under way after teachers realised that their Year 11 students’ final results did not reflect what they had been provided with by their school.

Instead, the Education Department issued a ‘projected mark’ for absentees without involving any teachers or telling them what they had planned to do.

“It is ridiculous,” one teacher who was affected, said.

“In a school, the student who was first in art never attended this year.”

The Malta Union of Teachers said the students awarded the marks were not present, either in person or virtually, and said the situation was “a slap in the face to the entire educational system”.

A slap in the face to the entire educational system.- MUT

Questioning the validity of the marks, union president Marco Bonnici said the issue was also worrying because teachers were bypassed when assessments were issued.

He said the MUT has passed all information at hand to the inquiry established by the Education Ministry and has started gathering evidence, the union is informed.

It did not know how many students were affected but said “the inquiry board should investigate the extent of this”.

A teacher, who witnessed the situation first-hand, told Times of Malta that Year 11s, who were absent from school, were given an annual exam mark by the Education Department.

He explained that “from ‘absent’, education officials put a predicted mark without advising teachers directly”.

The teacher pointed out that students who attended school and did their exam got lower marks than the predicted mark given to those who did not attend.

“This is not fair on students who sat for the exam and reduces the professional credibility of teachers to zero,” he said.

The teacher also claimed that the adjusted marks were published in the name of the teachers.

He said that the online system does not indicate that it is a predicted mark given by other officials, explaining that, in the column for comment, “there is nothing to explain the mark is predicted and not given by the teacher”.

Parents and students who would not know about the predicted mark would think the teachers did not know what they were doing, giving marks to those who did not attend, he said.

“My problem with this is that you cannot just modify a report by a professional,” he said.

Also, these marks are far from “foolproof”, he maintained, because they are just a predicted mark from the Form 3 and 4 exams.

The teacher said a notice about this was only addressed to heads of schools on June 15. They informed teachers the next day, before the results were published.

According to the teacher, the reasoning behind this was “not to have the school-leaving certificate without a mark”.

The notice forwarded to schools said: “While acknowledging that the extra-ordinary nature of the last months of school year 2019/2020 and of the present school year may have prevented some vulnerable students from attending school and sitting for their exams, the Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes has sought to support their progression to post-compulsory education by providing them with a projected mark for their Year 11 annual exams.

“The projected marks will feature in the students’ Secondary School Certificate and Profile (SSC&P).”

It goes on to explain how the projected scores were arrived at using statistical procedures and describing them as “very robust”, being based on the performance of a large number of students, who sat for their Year 11 exams, and on their actual performance when they were in Years 9 and 10.

The notice also said that schools would be receiving a list of the students and their projected marks for each subject and would have to input them, take note of any anomalies and inform the Educational Assessment Unit.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us