jump to navigation

Problems with Calculated Grades October 1, 2020

Posted by irishelectionliterature in Uncategorized.

I posted a Thread on Software Testing yesterday on Twitter (Which Is what my job has been for 23 years up til last Friday!) This is the thread and also I’m going to add in some stuff at the end which I think is relevant.

There should be a Product Requirements Document. This should be agreed between all the relevant parties. This would have the details of all the areas to be covered by the software. This document should be the basis for the creation of “Stories” and things like a Test Strategy Document. There would also be agreed Acceptance criteria. That means that the finished product should have been tested by the Department before accepting it.A “Story” means breaking down the programming to smaller manageable pieces. Each “Story” would have details and associated test cases. They should be peer reviewed. Each Story should then be tested and demonstrated as working. (assuming that the Dept sent the correct data set)

It should then be put all together and integrated. There should then be “end to end” testing scenarios done. There should be an agreed set of tests to be done here. Again was all the required data sent, was there a test matrix of scenarios to be tested agreed and supplied?

Once the vendor and the Department agree that the software is up to scratch it should be sent to a pre production environment. There it should be tested again… Which leads me to wonder were there many in the Department actually working on this software. Was it verified independently, by the Department or did the Dept take the word of the supplier?

Anyway the point of all this is that the issue with the Calculated grades software is something that shouldn’t have been missed in the testing…. and that there should have been various stages of testing where it should have been caught. Ultimately it’s the Department’s fault

So it looks to me that there were maybe five different calculations in play for the predicted grades. The Teachers marks, the teachers ranking of the student within the class, The Schools Junior Cert results, some kind of averaging algorithm to downgrade or upgrade students results. To have errors on one of those areas is shocking.

The Late change to remove School Profiling as a criteria, wouldn’t have made any difference to the errors, they would still have been there. That said as there were now less data points for the calculations it would have made the issue easier to spot. (It should have been spotted well before that)

This “50,000 lines of code” from the Minister is being made to sound as if it’s a programme to go to the moon. It’s not , no mention does that “50,000 lines of code” include libraries and so on. Most of it would probably be used for some kind of interface. Possibly this application was built on top of existing software for calculated grades elsewhere. The actual lines of code used for the calculations would be relatively small.

Was what was coded ,precisely what was in the the Departments Product Requirements Document? It was tested and worked perfectly and was rolled out?

One of the errors involved CSPE data. If CSPE was not to be included, why was it given to the Company developing the software? Why was CPSE even part of the application?

If you had a critical software error you wouldn’t be taking a week to fix and then announce it. If it was found on the Tuesday night, it sounds easily fixable and could have been tested on the Wednesday. A week before they announced it.

So what would we need to find out where the issue lies?
The Product Requirements Document.
The Data samples supplied to the Company.
The Test Plans, Test Cases and Test Results from the Company.
The Data samples used to test it by the Department and duly accept it.
The Test Plans, Test Cases and Test Results from the Department for their acceptance testing.


1. crocodileshoes - October 1, 2020

Leaving Cert candidates messed around in a hundred ways.
And – not as important in the scheme of things- teachers also badly mistreated. Having reluctantly agreed to take part in calculated grades system on the understanding that neither their original percentage estimates nor their class rankings could be traced back, they had to watch as the DES reneged on both parts of this agreement. Their reasons for this bad faith? Many and complex. It’d need a post of its own.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: