A Guide to Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020
Last updated on
Last updated on
Owing to the COVID-19 crisis, it is not possible to operate the Leaving Certificate examinations safely in July/August 2020 as planned. Existing and anticipated physical and practical requirements to protect the health of all citizens mean that the holding of the examinations is not feasible.
The Minister for Education and Skills recognises the need to facilitate students in the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 in their progression to further or higher education or the world of work. To achieve this in the current circumstances, he is offering a system of calculated grades.
A Calculated Grade is a grade that can be provided to students following the combination of school information about a student’s expected performance in an examination and national data available in relation to the performance of students in examinations over a period of time.
A calculated grade results from the combination of two data sets:
• A school-based estimation of an overall percentage mark and ranking to be awarded to a student in a particular subject.
• Data available from the Department of Education and Skills – this includes data on past performance of students in each school and nationally.
The combination of these data sets through a process of national standardisation carried out by the Department of Education and Skills can determine the grade to be awarded to each student in each subject, thereby resulting in a calculated grade.
The system of calculated grades that is being offered is based on the following key principles:
There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a calculated grade:
Both phases are underpinned by the principles noted above. In addition, and in the spirit of fairness to all Leaving Certificate students, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations when it becomes feasible to hold them remains open to all students.
The process of arriving at a calculate grade applies to:
The role of the school is to provide marks and rankings that reflect:
In providing the above estimated marks and rankings, there will be four main school-based steps:
Each of these steps is set out in detail below.
There is a strong body of research confirming the ability of teachers to make accurate professional judgements in relation to rank ordering students within their class groups and to assign estimated marks, particularly where the nature, structure and demands of the examination or test are very familiar to them.
In this step of the process, the teacher of each Leaving Certificate class will be asked to provide:
In coming to their judgements, teachers should draw on existing records and available evidence. It is important that the judgements are objective, and they should only take account of information about student performance. This will include the following, where available:
The teacher’s judgement will be based on evidence of learning and achievement such as that indicated above up until the point of school closure. Teachers will not set additional assessments for the purposes of determining an estimated percentage mark.
Where additional work has been completed after schools were closed on 13 March, teachers will be advised to exercise due caution where that work suggests a change in performance. In many cases, this is likely to reflect the circumstances and context in which the work is done rather than what might have happened if everything had been normal. This caution about interpreting what has happened since schools closed will not, of course, preclude teachers from taking account of the degree to which many students under normal circumstances would intensify their levels of commitment in the run-up to the examinations.
Most subjects have more than one examination component –for example, coursework, two written papers, an oral or practical examination. Teachers should give each component its usual weighting for the Leaving Certificate examination and provide a single overall mark for the subject as a whole, not a separate mark for each component.
When making estimates for language subjects, teachers should base them on the assumption that the oral examination component would have proceeded as usual. Likewise, for Music, teachers should base the estimate on the assumption that the performance test would have proceeded and the candidate performed to their expected standard.
The earlier arrangement (communicated in March) that full marks would be awarded in respect of the orals and music performance tests was predicated on the written examinations proceeding this summer. As the examinations will not proceed that arrangement will not apply.
In the case of coursework that has already been completed, a teacher’s overall estimate should incorporate the mark they think that this coursework would have achieved if it had been marked in the usual way.
In the case of students who are entered to take their examinations through Irish, the teacher should base the estimate of the student’s likely performance on the assumption that this bonus is included in the estimate. If the teacher is unsure how the bonus applies in their subject, information is available at www.education.ie
As noted in Section 3 of this guide principles of equity, fairness and objectivity are paramount in the calculated grades system. Teachers should do their best to remain alert to possible sources of unconscious bias that might affect the estimates. For instance, research shows that teacher estimates of student performance may be affected by the teacher’s experience and/or perceptions of the student’s classroom behaviour, or their knowledge about a student’s socio-economic or family background. By being alert to such
sources of unconscious bias, teachers can focus objectively on information that is clearly about attainment in the subject and not about other factors.
If there is a real or perceived conflict of interest involved in giving an estimated mark to a particular student (such as a close relative) in a teacher’s class, the teacher will draw the attention of the principal to this. Depending on the availability of a suitable alternative means of providing an estimation, the teacher may still need to assist in the process, but there will be additional oversight by the principal/deputy principal in such cases. If the conflict of interest arises for a principal who is teaching the student, she/he will so advise the deputy principal
Where any reasonable accommodation has been approved for any student (such as a reader or scribe), the teacher will base the estimate of the student’s likely performance on the assumption that this accommodation would have been available.
If a student has joined the class from another class in the school, the teacher will consult with the previous teacher and get whatever relevant records they have. If the student has joined the class from another school, and if the length of time is such that the teacher considers he/she does not have enough evidence to make a sound judgement, he/she should consult with school management about acquiring additional information from the student’s previous school. It may not be possible to get this, in which case the teacher will still need to make the best judgement he/she can on the information available.
In this step of the process, subject teachers together review the teachers’ estimated scores for students who are taking that subject. Following this element of the alignment process, each teacher will finalise the estimated scores and the rank order of their students in the class. If there is only one teacher of the subject in the school, the subject teacher conducts the in-school alignment process with the Deputy Principal of the school.
The purpose of school alignment of marks is to ensure that:
Prior to the alignment process, each subject teacher drafts the initial estimated scores and class rank order for each of their students and class groups. A separate rank order will be required for higher, ordinary and foundation levels where relevant.
A consultative engagement that is inclusive of all the relevant teachers is put in place. The alignment process should be designed in a way that enables group reflection and discussion by the teachers of a particular subject (the subject alignment group) with a focus on ensuring that the process of arriving at estimated marks and rank ordering has been correctly applied and that marks have been properly aligned.
Following the consultative engagement, each teacher reviews his/her class group data sets (i.e. estimated marks and rankings), adjusts if necessary, and finalises a completed estimated mark form for each student in the class group. These individual student forms and the completed rank order form for the class group are submitted to the school principal through the subject alignment group as the product of the subject alignment process.
It should be noted that in the course of the process only the class teacher can change the estimated mark or rank order for a class group.
The third school-based step in the provision of marks and rankings is the oversight of the marks and ranking process by the school principal. In line with the principles of fairness, equity and objectivity, the principal reviews the process applied to the collection of data to assure the fair treatment of individual students and to ensure that a uniformity of standard is applied within the school and in situations where more than one class group is entered for a subject. In this regard, the principal will ensure that different teachers of the same subject within the school are applying similar standards.
In this step of the process, the principal:
A principal may return the data sets to the subject alignment group for further review if he/she reasonably believes that one or more of the following grounds may apply:
In instances where the data sets are returned by the principal to the subject alignment group for further consideration, the principal indicates the reason(s)/stated grounds for the return of the data. The stated grounds are confined to one or more of the above grounds. The group will consider the stated ground(s), make any necessary adjustments, and return
The finalised data sets are submitted to the DES by the principal (ideally by end May 2020).
Research makes clear that because teacher judgments are made in the context of each school, they need to be examined and adjusted at a national level to ensure comparability across different schools and that a common national standard is applied.
The school-sourced data will be combined with historical examination data available to the Department through a process called national standardisation in order to generate the calculated grade for the students in the subject. This national standardisation process will bring the two data sets into alignment with each other and will be used to ensure the calculated grades reflect standards that are properly aligned across schools and with a common national standard.
The rank order within the class group is preserved in the statistical process. However, the teachers’ estimated marks from each school will be adjusted to bring them into line with the expected distribution for the school. The national standardisation process being used will not impose any predetermined score on any individual in a class or a school. Each school’s expected distributions will be arrived at from the statistical analysis of all the historic Department datasets. These data sets allow the production of good calculations of the distributions of marks to be expected for each school and nationally.
The relevant Department data sets that support the process include mark data at:
In advance of receiving the estimated marks from schools the information about how the school has done in the past and the information about the strengths and weakness of the current group of students will all be assembled and will be used to predict the level of achievement that this particular group of students would have been expected to reach in that subject if those students had sat the Leaving Certificate examination in the normal way. This information is then combined with the estimates that the school has provided in order to generate the fairest possible result that can be calculated.
After the national standardisation process, the calculated marks will be converted into calculated grades, and these grades will be issued to candidates. The calculated grades will be expressed in the same manner as currently applies to Leaving Certificate grades – H1 etc
It is intended that calculated grades will be provided to candidates as close as possible to the normal results day
calculated grades is a commitment to objectivity and fairness. To ensure this, the school-based process must not be compromised.
Therefore, the principal, deputy principal(s), teachers or other members of the school staff must not under any circumstances discuss with any student or with the parents or guardians of any student the estimated marks that the school is submitting. There are two reasons for this:
After the results are issued, students will be able to see the final mark that led to their grade
It is open to a candidate to appeal his/her calculated grades.
The appeal process will include a three-stage process:
Finally, candidates who remain unhappy with the outcome of the calculated grade awarded have the opportunity to sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examination in the subject(s) at a later stage when it is safe to do so. If a candidate sits such an examination and achieves a higher grade than his/her calculated grade:
In addition, there will be oversight by an independent expert unconnected with the design of the calculated grades model to provide overall validation of the model, including the operation of the appeals system.
Finally, it should be noted that calculated grades are being offered as an option to students in 2020 simply because of the unprecedented impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their education. The Department of Education and Skills and all the education partners recognise that exceptional measures are required in 2020 for the assessment and certification of students’ learning but that implementation of these measures will not be regarded as a precedent or as agreement to operate such measures in future years.
A guidance document - Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate 2020 – Guide for Schools on Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings is available for teachers and schools
Information will be available for students and parents/guardians at www.gov.ie/leavingcertificate