Brian Mooney: Student anger may deepen when teachers’ estimated grades are released
For some this data will be of mild interest, yet for others it will feel very significant
In the case of 17% of grades nationally, students may be frustrated and angry when they find out that their teachers’ estimates were lowered by the department under its standardisation process. Photograph: Getty Images
The Leaving Cert class of 2020 will on Monday morning find out the percentage mark that their teachers assigned them under the calculated grades process.
We know already that data submitted by teachers to the Department of Education was generous in most cases, leading to grade inflation.
For many students this information may just be a matter of mild curiosity given that they received one of their top CAO course choices last Friday, and are happy to move on.
Yet in the case of 17 per cent of grades nationally, students may be frustrated and angry when they find out that their teachers’ estimates were lowered by the department under its standardisation process.
And in the case of 4 per cent of grades, students’ anger may be directed at their teacher when they discover that their estimated grade was increased by the department.
These emotions will , in many ways, be misdirected. The algorithm developed by the department which was used to calculate students’ grades was based partially on the students’ Junior Cert performance across five subjects (Irish, English, Maths and each student’s two other best subjects ) which was allocated collectively to the class group in which they studied for their Leaving Cert.
The Junior Cert five-subject average of each student was pooled to create a class average for the entire class.
The department’s algorithm drew heavily on this information in distributing H1s, H2s, etc, across the class group.
What grade you got last Monday was also heavily determined by your class ranking position, submitted by your teacher along with the marks he/she recommended.
For students who are unhappy with receiving a lower grade than their teachers submitted, it is your class ranking position which was key.
If the class average of Junior Cert performance of each student in your current class indicated that five H1s were appropriate and you were, for example, number six on your teachers’ ranking list, you received a H2 instead.
Yet if you want this information you will not be given it on Monday. Rather you will have to appeal your grade or make a data protection or Freedom of Information request.
The appeal process this year is very different. The agreement made with the teachers’ unions prior to the decision to adopt the calculated grade process in May determined that the appeal process cannot reopen any of the work undertaken by them in determining the mark awarded to any student. It can only check the accuracy of the data transfer from the school to the department and elsewhere.
If you feel all is lost remember there are still options. Students who are unsuccessful to date in securing a satisfactory offer can explore “available places” which will be published on Monday at CAO.ie.
Further offers are due under subsequent CAO rounds . And there is also time to secure a PLC course in your favourite career interest area at your local Further Education college through direct application.