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SACE computer glitch tests emotions


A glitch with the SACE Board’s computers has allowed an unknown number of Year 12 students to see the results of others, leading at least some students to get a painfully wrong impression about their performance.

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The computer system problem meant that some students who logged in to find out their results on Tuesday were presented with a PDF document of a different student’s Tertiary Entrance Statement.

This contained the student’s name, their ATAR (their score for tertiary entrance purposes) and their list of subjects.

Many students apparently realised the mistake and logged out and in again, then receiving their proper results.

However, about 23 students didn’t log back in, leading to potentially heartbreaking confusion about their performance.

After analysing system data, the SACE Board contacted these students yesterday to make sure they realised a mistake had been made.

Some of the heartbreak – in some cases temporary, in others longer-lasting – was revealed in calls to radio station FIVEaa this morning.

Caller Dianne told FIVEaa’s Mike Smithson and Tom Rehn that her son believed for a time that his ATAR was 57 – only to discover later it was a much more palatable 84.

“It was heartbreaking for me to listen to my son in tears,” she said. “To know that he had put all this work in this year – and it’s a stressful year as it is – and to find this happen. I’d like to get my hands around the person who sent the wrong results.”

It turns out it wasn’t a person, but the SACE Board’s IT system. During peak time on Tuesday, the system served students the tertiary entrance statement of a previous student who had logged in.

The SACE Board says it is investigating the problem, but hasn’t yet been able to replicate the glitch.

SACE Board chief executive Neil McGoran revealed today that, potentially, many more than 23 students received the wrong information.

“If you logged into the system between 8.30 and 9.00, there were potentially 15,000 students logging in at that time,” he told FIVEaa.

McGoran was apologetic about the breach, but under questioning about security and privacy issues, he pointed out the Year 12 results used to be published in the newspaper.

“But this situation shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “But it did happen and we have apologised to those students who were affected.

“I know the caller you had is one example of someone who was very upset about that. As educators that’s the last thing we want to happen. So we need to do something to address that, and quite rightly make sure that doesn’t happen again.”


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