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Leaving Cert 2020: How calculated grades will work

The traditional exams will be replaced with a new system for awarding 'calculated grades'


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in news


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Due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the Leaving Certificate exams for 2020 have been cancelled and replaced with a new system for awarding 'calculated grades'. The calculated grades will apply to students doing the Leaving Cert, the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA), and for the Leaving Cert Vocational Programme (LCVP) link modules.

The decision was made after students and parents called for ‘predicted grades’ to be used instead of the traditional exams, because of concerns that sitting the Leaving Cert in schools would put the health of students at risk.

Predicted grades are usually used to help colleges or universities in other countries determine if a student would qualify for a place on their course. Students can be offered places based on their predicted grade, but they would then have to sit their exams and achieve those grades or higher in order to take the place.

Instead of predicted grading, the Leaving Cert will use what they are calling 'calculated grades', which will be determined through a process involving teachers, schools, and a special unit within the Department of Education. There is also the option to sit the exams a later date if students prefer.

How calculated grades will work

Students will have the option to choose between receiving 'calculated grades', or waiting to sit the Leaving Cert at a later date once it is safe to hold the exams.

Students who receive calculated grades but who are not happy with those results can still go on to sit the Leaving Cert exams if they want to try and improve these grades.

Students have until Monday 27 July at 4pm to opt-in to confirm they wish to receive calculated grades.

How to opt-in for calculated grades

All Leaving Cert and Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) students were invited to register for the Calculated Grades Student Portal in May. Those students who registered for the portal will now need to 'opt-in' to receive their calculated grades. The portal will open at 12pm on Monday, 20 July 2020 and remain open until Monday 27 July at 4pm. All students who registered for the portal will receive a text message asking them to log on to opt-in for calculated grades. Go to Gov.ie/LeavingCertificate to log on to the portal.

Leaving cert 2020 system

What is a calculated grade?

A calculated grade is a grade based on how a school expects an individual student would perform in their exams, as well as how students from that school have performed in the past. 

How teachers will decide on grades

The first step involves the teachers and the schools. Teachers will look at past classwork, assignments and exam results and use the student's past performance to decide what score they would expect the student to get in an exam. 

They will then take all of the grades for their class and rank their students in order of the level of achievement they would expect from each student.

Students and parents cannot contact their teachers at any time 

How schools will review the grades

The next step of the process will involve all of the teachers who teach the subject coming together to review the scores given to students and the class rankings to finalise the list. This is to make sure that students received the right estimated mark and that the ranking was done correctly.

This will then go to the school principal to review and make sure marks were awarded correctly and fairly, before being sent to the Department of Education.

Adjustment of grades by the Department of Education

A special unit has been set up in the Department of Education to review the grades sent in by schools. They hope to receive all of the relevant information from schools by the end of May.

The purpose of this is to standardise the results across the country and within the school. This means they will look at information like how students from the school have performed in the Leaving Cert in the past, and use this information to adjust the grades to make sure this year's grades are in line with previous years.

What does this mean for oral and practical results?

Earlier this year, it was announced that students were to receive full marks in all oral and practical exams this year. This is no longer the case, because those full marks were awarded on the basis that students would be sitting the exams later in the year. 

Instead, teachers will be awarding the marks they would have expected their students to get if they had done their oral or practical exams.

When will we get the Leaving Cert results?

Leaving Cert results will be released on 7 September 2020 with first-round offers from the CAO being released on 11 September 2020. UCAS have also agreed to the new dates for students hoping to study in the UK. 

What if I am not happy with my grades?

If you are not happy with your grades, you can submit an appeal. The appeal process will go through these steps:

  • Checking that the data was entered correctly by the school
  • Checking that the data was received and processed correctly by the Department of Education
  • An option to have the process reviewed by independent appeal scrutineers

If students are still not happy, they can choose to sit the exams at a later date.

Sitting the Leaving Cert exams

If you are not happy with the grades you receive in one or more of your subjects, you will have the opportunity to sit the exam at a later date. If the student receives a higher grade after sitting the exam, their official grades will be updated.

If the new results mean you qualify for higher offer on the CAO, you will have an opportunity to take that offer as soon as it is possible to join the course.

It’s worth keeping in mind that any sitting of the Leaving Cert exams for the class of 2020 may not happen in time to start college or further education this year, which means you may have to wait until the new academic year starts in September of 2021.

Need more information?

Would you like more information? Maybe you would like to talk through your own situation? Get in touch through our online chat system for 16 to 25 year olds - Monday to Friday 4pm to 8pm.

Feeling overwhelmed or anxious around the current pandemic?

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Published May 8th2020
Tags covid-19 leaving cert
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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