Grading the Leaving Certificate


Sir, – One hears regular criticism of the use of Leaving Certificate results as the gateway to third-level education. The current system encourages learning by rote, it does not assess all the skills which are important for future studies, and it makes no allowance for a student having an off-day or not being in a position to sit all or part of the examination.

These reservations are valid.

But any replacement system must be measured against the stand-out benefit of that now in use – assessment is anonymous.

Alternatives to this system of anonymous assessment usually involve some element of class-based assessment. That approach met its Waterloo in Leaving Certificate 2020.

You report the Department of Education’s chief inspector telling an Oireachtas committee that “severe overestimation” had taken place in some schools when calculating students’ grades (News, November 11th). He went on to say that, on average, 4.7 per cent of students had received the top H1 grade over the previous three years but that this increased to 13.8 per cent under the estimated grading system in 2020. The impact of this nonsense on the CAO’s work has been well documented.

Think about this. When teachers marked scripts anonymously, they concluded that less than one student in 20 merited the top grade. But when the same teachers were asked to assess their own students (and indirectly their teachers’ performance), they decided that more than one in eight students merited a H1 grade.

Let’s keep it anonymous. – Yours, etc,



Co Kilkenny.