Almost 100 Leaving Cert students had six or more subject grades lowered

Applications to sit the Leaving Certificate 2020 in November open this morning

Almost 100 Leaving Cert students had six or more of their teachers’ estimated grades lowered under the Department of Education’s calculated grades process, new figures show.

The extent to which some students were disproportionately downgraded has sparked calls from Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill for "compassionate" steps for students affected.

A new breakdown of calculated grades figures show that, overall, 34 per cent of this year’s 60,000 Leaving Cert students did not have any of their teachers’ grades lowered.

However, 32 per cent (18,584) had one of their teachers’ grades lowered, while 20 per cent (11,663) had two grades lowered and 9 per cent (5,288) had three grades adjusted downwards.

A further 3 per cent (1,885) had four of their grades lowered, 1 per cent (488) had five of their grades moved downwards and 0.1 per cent (83) had six grades lowered.

A total of 11 students had seven or more subjects lowered.

Ms Carroll MacNeill said she had been contacted by numerous students who were distraught after several of their teachers’ estimated grades were lowered following the standardisation process.

"The CAO points implications of this were huge for the students affected," she said.

“I’ve been contacted by students who missed out on their chosen courses or didn’t get any CAO offer at all after being downgraded in multiple subjects.

“Yes. the numbers are small in the overall context of 50,000-plus students, but it has been very painful for these students and their families.”

She said she hoped some compassionate steps could ultimately be taken to assist these students.

Meanwhile, applications to sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate in November will open this morning.

The entry process can be accessed from 9am through the Calculated Grades Student Portal and those intent on sitting the exams have until 5pm on Friday to apply.

Subject to public health advice, the exams will begin on Monday, November 16th and conclude on Friday, December 11th.

One exam will take place on weekday evenings from 5.30pm, and two each on Saturdays and Sundays from 9.30am and 2pm.

For those dissatisfied with previous calculated grades, anyone taking the exams will receive whichever is the higher grade from both processes. Exam results from the written tests are expected in early February.

Those who opt to sit the exams and go on to receive an improved CAO offer on foot of the results will also receive a deferred college offer, and can start their course in the 2021/22 academic year.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) said in a situation where a candidate who has already started first year of a course becomes entitled to a higher CAO offer and chooses to accept it, attendance for their first year on the new course would remain eligible for free fees and SUSI funding where appropriate.

It is intended that candidates will sit their exams in the school where they had been entered last June and anyone who cannot attend them can apply in 2021.

There are some other key differences in the 2020 approach. The SEC noted that it “would not be feasible or practical at this stage” to conduct oral or practical components, or to try to complete unfinished coursework.

However, in the case of five subjects - Home Economics practical coursework; LCVP Portfolio; Design and Communication Graphics practical coursework; Physical Education (PE) Physical Activity Project; and Engineering practicals – coursework which had been completed prior to school closure will be marked and included in grading.

The published timetables for the exams will be available on the SEC website ( when the student portal opens on Monday.

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