Minister announces changes to Calculated Grades for Leaving Cert

by Rachel Darcy

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has announced further details of the Calculated Grades model for the upcoming Leaving Certificate results, following a Government decision on proposals put forward by the minister.

Minister Foley put forward proposals to amend the national standardisation process, which forms part of the Calculated Grades model. Under the Calculated Grades model, estimated marks from schools will be adjusted, as planned, to ensure that a consistent standard is applied across schools throughout the country, when judging the performance of students.

The change introduced by Minister Foley will remove the use of school-by-school historical data in the standardisation model, putting a greater emphasis on the estimated marks provided by schools to individual students. The change is to ensure equity and fairness in the process.

Minister Foley said: “The Government’s decisions today will provide additional reassurances to Leaving Certificate 2020 students that their unique situation has been understood and treated fairly.

“Equity and fairness must be at the heart of everything we do as a society. From my first day as Minister for Education I have been determined that in this extraordinary year, the system in place to mark students’ achievements of their years in post-primary education would be the fairest possible system under these challenging safeguards.

“While the Irish Calculated Grades model had inherent safeguards that marked it as more equitable than those that were used in other jurisdictions, I felt we could do more to assure our students of the fairness of our system.

“I have considered the effects and impacts of the standardisation model we are using, the importance of ensuring that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are not treated unfairly and the experiences in other jurisdictions in this regard.

“The Government has supported my recommendation to achieve this objective. The standardisation model used in the Calculated Grades system will not include data on how a school has historically performed at Leaving Certificate.

“The national standardisation process that we have put in place will ensure consistency of approach across schools, so that no student will be unfairly advantaged or disadvantaged.

“Taking out the school-by-school historical data from the standardisation process removes any risk that a Leaving Certificate student’s results can be impacted by the performance of Leaving Certificate classes in his or her school in previous years. Your school will not determine the results that you get through standardisation this year.

“Although the process is still being run, the preliminary data indicates that there need be no concern about students being unfairly disadvantaged by the process. This is the fairest approach and the right approach.

“I am pleased that we have taken the time to get this right, and learned from others, and listened to the concerns of students.”

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the stakeholder advisory group this morning which includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Educational Psychological Service, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Department.

Minister Foley also noted: “I also want to assure students that when they get their results on 7 September, they will have access to the usual range of supports and information available on results day.

“I have asked your schools to put in place and communicate directly to you arrangements measures to guidance support either in the school, with access at a particular time to accommodate social distancing, or via telephone.”

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