Foley: Stronger Leaving Cert grades show model has 'worked very well'


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.34 7 Sep 2020


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Education Minister Norma Foley says record grades in this year's Leaving Certificate results show the calculated grading process worked "very well".

The overall number of students due to sit the exam this year was 60,419.

They are also receiving results for the first time in the new subjects of Computer Science and Physical Education.

Students have been able to access their results through the student portal from 9.00am.

Minister Foley told Ciara Kelly on Newstalk Breakfast: "Certainly there is a stronger grade profile, but I think it's fair to say that the process as was utilised in the model has worked very well in that the starting point this year was the percentage mark and rank order provided by the schools.

"You would appreciate that teachers would adjudicate their students on the basis of the best mark that their students would get, on the best day with their best set of questions.

"While the teachers would know their own students and their abilities very well, it's not fair to expect them to know the abilities of students in other schools in another county.

"Standardisation was introduced so there could be a comparability across students across the country.

"And what has emerged... is a stronger grade profile compared to previous years - but that's much less than what would have been achieved by relying solely on teacher estimated grades".

Asked about upcoming college places, she said: "Today we're talking about the release of the calculated grades, and that's the point for today.

"What will happen on Friday and what points will be required and all of that, that remains unknown until Friday.

"But I have every confidence that students will be happy as they can be on the day of the CAO offers coming out.

"And I acknowledge too, though, in every Leaving Certificate system there are students who will be very, very happy and there will be less happy.

"But we will not be able to adjudicate all of that in the round and in its fullest until we do see the CAO offers on Friday".

Foley: Stronger Leaving Cert grades show model has 'worked very well'

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Minister Foley said she removed the school profiling element to grading as she has 'always had reservations' about that approach.

"I think the Irish model, as we employed it, has worked very well in a very fair manner for all students across all abilities and all backgrounds.

"There was - as you would be aware - an element of controversy around one aspect of the calculated grades model, the standardisation model, and that was the historical school data.

"And I've always had reservations myself about that in terms of I do believe every student should have the ability to stand on how the have performed and should not be reflected upon in terms of the historical achievement or otherwise of their schools.

"So I removed that element of it in the last week, and I think what we have is a very fair system acorns all levels for all students".

Asked if the algorithm will be published, she said: "Absolutely - every aspect of the model is being released and information being given.

"It's hugely important that there would be full transparency as regards how this model progressed and what was involved."

She added that a number of different reports are being released on Monday, including a report from the National Standardisation Group.

In a statement, the Department of Education says the results are "stronger" than a normal year - but noted that the grades estimated by teachers were higher before the calculated grades system brought them down.

The system saw 16.9% of grades reduced.

H1 grades of 90% and above - equivalent to the old A1 - are up 3.3% at Higher Level and 1.7% at Ordinary Level.

Main image: Education Minister Norma Foley (left) at the launch of the roadmap for re-opening schools. Picture by: RollingNews.ie / JULIEN BEHAL PHOTOGRAPHY

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