Leaving Cert students to learn details of adjustments to calculated grades process

61,000 students are due to receive their calculated results at 9am on September 7th

Some 61,000 Leaving Cert students are set to receive their calculated grade results at 9am on Monday, September 7th. Photograph: David Jones/PA Wire

Some 61,000 Leaving Cert students are set to receive their calculated grade results at 9am on Monday, September 7th. Photograph: David Jones/PA Wire

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Leaving Cert students are set to receive fresh details this week over how the calculated grades process has been adjusted to try to make results as fair and accurate as possible.

The Department of Education is expected to this week release technical details of how the calculated grades system has been completed and refined in light of expert advice and controversy in the United Kingdom.

Disadvantaged students were found to have been disproportionately downgraded compared to others in the UK system, which led to an outcry and a government U-turn to reinstate teachers’ predicted grades.

Sources say the Irish system now differs from the UK version in at least three crucial respects.

Teachers’ estimated marks for individual students will carry a much greater weight in the Irish system compared to the UK, it is understood.

In addition, teachers’ estimated marks for individual students are in the form of per centages rather than grade bands, as was the case in the UK. This, say department officials, should allow for greater accuracy.

National performance

Furthermore, it is claimed that the Irish system is designed to allow for exceptional students to be recognised, even in a class or school which has historically underperformed.

Calculated grades – which replaced the summer Leaving Cert exams – are based on a combination of teachers’ estimated marks for students and a standardisation process to ensure the national performance is similar to previous years. Some 61,000 students are due to receive their results at 9am on Monday, September 7th.

The new details of how the system will operate is unlikely to satisfy opposition parties who have criticised an element of the standardisation process know as “school profiling” .

This is a reference to how historical data for student achievement across individual schools is set to form part of the standardisation process.

Labour’s education spokesman Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD said this element should be taken out of the process as it threatens to “doubly disadvantage” students from less well-off backgrounds.

Department sources, however, say the Irish system has been carefully constructed to ensure students are not unfairly disadvantaged on socio-economic grounds.

It is understood that the calculated grades process, meanwhile, is largely complete and verification checks are taking place.

Students, who receive their results next Monday, will have to wait four days after their results to receive CAO officers.

Some education sources say the fact that our college offers system is different to the UK’s may take some of the heat out of controversy linked to students’ calculated grades.

In the UK, students received conditional college offers based on their predicted grades. However, in Ireland the CAO operates on the basis of supply and demand, along with students’ relative performance, which should provide more flexibility for movements in grades.

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