Leaving Cert Q&A: How do I apply to get my calculated grades?

Department officials have published guidance on how the new grading process will apply

Detailed guidance for teachers on how to apply calculated grades for Leaving Cert students is due to be issued on Thursday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Detailed guidance for teachers on how to apply calculated grades for Leaving Cert students is due to be issued on Thursday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire


How, simply, will the calculated grades process work?

There are two stages to the process.

First, teachers will be asked to provide an estimated percentage mark for each student for each subject. Students will also be placed in a rank over for their class.

These estimates will be based on coursework and in-school assessments over the last two or three years.

Secondly, the Department of Education will apply a national “standardisation” process to grades. This could result in the adjustment of grades up or down based on a number of data sources.

These sources include a school’s achievement in a particular subject over recent years and the proportional distribution of grades nationally, sometimes referred to a bell-curve.

What will happen in the case of a teacher who is due to grade their son or daughter?

Teachers will be directed to declare conflicts of interest when grading Leaving Cert students who are close family members.

In such circumstances, another teacher in the school or the deputy principal may be asked to examine available evidence of a student’s performance and mark the candidate accordingly.

Are there any rules to prevent students or parents lobbying teachers on their grades?

Any attempt to inappropriately interfere with the grading process may be recorded by school and forwarded to the department.

In addition, the department has stated that teachers and schools must not be subjected to “any type of influence, inducement (including gifts), pressure or coercion by a parent/guardian, student or any other person in relation to a student’s mark or ranking either before or after it has been assigned”.

Such contact would be regarded as “totally inappropriate” and a “serious attempt to interfere with the fairness and objectivity” required of teachers and schools in the assigning mark for the students in the school as a whole.

Will I automatically get my calculated grades or do I need to opt into the system?

Leaving Cert students will not automatically receive calculated grades but will have to to opt-in to get them under a new online system being set up to manage the cancellation of exams early next week.

Students will also have the opportunity to re-nominate their subject levels – such as higher, ordinary and foundation – at which they wish to receive their calculated grades, according to well-placed sources.

I performed terribly in my mocks. What exams or assessments, exactly, will teachers base their judgements on when calculated grades on?

The guidance will state that teachers should draw on “existing records and available evidence” such as classwork, homework, class assessments, Christmas and summer exams and mock exams. Junior Cert results will not be considered.

Teachers will be required to provide a “fair, reasonable and carefully considered” judgement of the likely percentage mark each student would have achieved if they had sat their exams and completed coursework under normal conditions. As a result, an individual mock exam should not distort a student’s achievement.

What happens with the 100 per cent mark I was due to receive for the cancelled oral exams?

The department says these marks are no longer valid and all subjects will be assessed using the calculated grades model.

Teachers will be asked to consider what they feel the student would have achieved in the oral exam, based on past performance as part of the process for awarding calculated grades.

What will happen for Leaving Cert candidates who have been studying for subjects outside regular schools?

In cases where students who are studying a subject outside a regular school, these students will be examined on a case-by-case basis.

A total of 2,858 external candidates (such as adult learners, home-schooled students or those in alternative or private college that are not officially State-recognised) are entered to sit the Leaving Cert this year.

Schools will be required to engage with teachers outside a school in determining a student’s estimated grade.

For students in receipt of home tuition with an association to a recognised school, the official guidance provides advice for school authorities on how to engage with the home tutor in arriving at a decision.

However, it states that “whether a valid estimate of performance can be provided will depend on whether the home tutor is a registered teacher and where the school is satisfied with the evidence used to support the judgment”.

This a raise the possbility that some students in home school settings without registered teacher may not be able to get a calculated grade.

What happens if a student in a school is taking an extra subject outside the school, such as Polish?

A school will be asked to include that tutor’s estimate of a candidate’s mark if the school is satisified it can stand over the estimate.

The student’s performance in that subject will then be amalgamated within the school grades.

However, if the school is not satisfied that there is sufficient evidence available to them to stand over any estimated mark, it is required to inform the department. In this case, the student may not receive a result for this subject

My school is new and has never had a Leaving Cert class before. Will our grades be assessed differently?

It is expected that these schools will be advised to work with whatever historical data is available for students during senior cycle, in the same way as any other school.

Will international colleges recognise my calculated grades?

Students will receive a State-issued certificate and it is understood that these will be recognised in the UK and EU. Other countries, such as the UK, are also awarding calculated or predicted grades, which in turn will be recognised by Irish third level institutions.

When will results be issued?

There is no official date yet, but Minister McHugh has signalled that the provisional results will issue as close to normal in mid-August.

Will I be able to appeal my grades?

Yes – but the appeals process will be limited to checking data entry errors rather than reviewing a teacher’s professional judgement.

Students will also be entitled to submit a request for their mark and school ranking under data protection legislation.

Those who are still unhappy will have the option to sit the deferred Leaving Cert written exams, whenever they are held in line with public health advice.

However, it will be too late to start college in the coming academic year based on these results Leaving Cert results.