Minister Drops Plans to use School Academic Record to Assess Leaving Cert

Fianna Fail - Norma Foley - Education

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today announced further details of the Calculated Grades model for Leaving Certificate 2020.

Her colleague, Minister for Further and Higher Education Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD has also confirmed 1,250 additional higher education places to be offered on certain high-demand courses for the academic year 2020/21.

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 removes the use of school-by-school historical data in the standardisation model.

This places a greater emphasis on the estimated marks provided by schools to individual students. The change was driven by the Minister 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.”

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 Harris said: “I am delighted to have the support of my cabinet colleagues to provide an additional 1,250 places in our universities and institutes of technology, in a diverse range of high-demand courses as part of a package of measures to support those applying to college in 2020.  

“Providing more places on high-demand courses gives us scope to ease anxiety, reduce uncertainty and demonstrate the ability of the education system to respond to student concerns. 

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.