Leaving Cert: Teachers advised to ‘destroy’ documents relating to students’ grades

Schools have been directed to only retain official forms with students’ final grades

Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire  has called for a ‘plan B’ for any students unable to get a calculated grade. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called for a ‘plan B’ for any students unable to get a calculated grade. Photograph: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

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Teachers are being advised to “securely destroy” any supporting documentation they generate in reaching a decision on a students’ grades.

This may include drafts of forms, personal notes or emails in which teachers discuss a student’s estimated percentage mark or class ranking in a particular subject.

Instead, schools have been directed to retain only the final forms submitted to the Department of Education which record students’ final estimated marks and class rankings.

The department says this is because the scope of any appeal to a student’s grade will not encompass reopening or challenging the professional judgments of teachers or the school.

Appeals to grades will be limited to data-entry checks to ensure there were no administrative errors.

The move means that if a student makes a request for data access or appeals their result, the only documents they will have access to will be the school’s estimated percentage mark and individual ranking in the class.

Thousands of Leaving Cert students, meanwhile, have until 10pm on Thursday,May 28th, to register to receive their calculated grade.

Students – where relevant – are also required to confirm the level at which they intended to sit each of their subjects.

Candidates will have the option of confirming the level or changing to a lower level.

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Once the department has received all the necessary data from schools, students will be asked to opt in through the portal to indicate if they wish to receive calculated grades.

Separately, the department has confirmed it may not be possible to award calculated grades to students in some circumstances.

These cases relate to students taking subjects outside school where there is no “satisfactory evidence” on which to base a grade.

They include repeat students, native language speakers who were due to sit an exam in that subject, students home schooling and students taking a subject outside of school.

A spokesman said that in these circumstances candidates will have the option to sit the Leaving Cert written examinations at a later date when it is safe to hold them.

It is estimated that thousands of students in schools take subjects outside school, such as minority languages or subjects which are not offered in their schools.

There are no record yet, however, of how many of these students do not have tutors or evidence of their learning achievement.

‘External’ candidates

There are also about 2,800 Leaving Cert students who are “external” candidates this year and are not attending regular schools.

Similarly, there is no reliable data yet on how many of these students do not have tutors or evidence of their learning achievement.

“If a student is not connected to a school and is studying independently, the department will consider these students on a case by case basis and will be flexible in accepting estimated marks and rankings,” a spokesman said.

“Every effort will be made to provide an estimated mark provided there is sufficient credible evidence of the student’s achievement.”

Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has called for a “plan B” for students who are unable to get a calculated grade.

“I have been contacted by many people who are in this situation and they are concerned. As of yet the reality is these students have not gotten any substantive reassurance from the Minister.

“My concern is that students will be expected to wait to take the written Leaving Cert or the subject of their choosing in late autumn or winter, too late for this year’s third-level admissions.”

Online study course

Meanwhile, English language students who are stuck in Ireland because of Covid-19 will be allowed to remain as long as they re-enrol in an online study course for the remainder of the academic year.

Students who left the State before completion of their studies due to Covid-19 may return and resume their studies, according to new measures introduced by the Department of Justice.

Language students, whose visas were due to expire between May 20th and July 20th have had their visas extended by two months.