A Brief Guide to Accredited Grades

Now that Accredited Grades have replaced the 2020 Calculated Grades – what are they?

An accredited grade is based on an estimated mark a student would get in that subject in the Leaving Certificate exam. They are available to students taking the Leaving Cert, Leaving Cert Applied, and Leaving Cert Vocational Programme. Accredited Grades, therefore, consider performance in all aspects of an examination including, where relevant, oral, practical, and coursework components and tasks.

The steps involved in getting to an accredited grade are:

1: Estimated mark and ranking by the subject/class teacher

The teacher gives an estimate of the mark the student would likely have got if they sat the Leaving Certificate exam in normal conditions, using records of the student’s performance and progress, for example, classwork and homework, class assessments and coursework over the 2 years of the Leaving Certificate cycle.

2: In-school alignment by the school’s subject teachers

Subject teachers in the school review the estimated marks and ranking of students in that school and finalise their estimated percentage marks and rankings following this alignment process. Teachers will demonstrate that no two students are placed on the same estimated percentage mark. Percentage marks may include up to two decimal places (83.22%, 83.33%, etc.)

If the school has only one teacher of the subject, the ranking review will be done with the deputy principal.

3: Oversight of marks and rankings by the school principal

The school principal will review the marks and ranking data and assure themselves that the process has been fair.

4: National standardisation of accredited grades

Research shows that because teacher judgements 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.

For this reason, the school estimated percentage marks will be combined with recent national data through a process called standardisation to generate the Accredited Grade for the students in the subject. This will bring the data sets into alignment with each other and will be used to ensure the grades reflect standards that are aligned across schools and with a common national standard.

The standardisation process being used does not impose any predetermined mark on any individual in a class or a school, nor does it use historical school-level data on past performance in Leaving Certificate exams. Estimated percentage marks will be collected from each school.

Though the prior performance of the class group in Junior Cycle may be used in this process, the individual performance of the student at Junior Cycle would not be a determinant of their performance at Leaving Certificate, other than when the subject is being taken outside of school.

If the group of students in a school in the current year is particularly “strong”, the expected level of achievement of the group will reflect that fact. Likewise, if one or more individuals stand out as particularly strong, that will be reflected in the school’s estimated marks and be considered.

After the standardisation process, the marks will be converted into SEC accredited grades.

The school principal must submit the estimated marks for national standardisation by 3 June 2021.

Reasonable accommodations for students with special educational needs

Where any reasonable accommodation has been approved for a 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. Since accommodations are intended to reflect students’ normal way of working in class, this should not require any special intervention beyond the teacher’s existing understanding of how the student gets on with the relevant supports in place.

Objectivity and Fairness.

To ensure objectivity and fairness, the school-based process must not be compromised. Therefore, 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:

  1. The estimated percentage mark assigned by the school is not necessarily the final mark that the student will receive, and it would therefore be misleading for the student to receive that mark before the Accredited Grade processes are complete
  2. Allowing access to and discussion of estimated grades before the process is complete would interfere with the process being carried out objectively and fairly. If teachers discussed the marks with some students but not others, or if some teachers did this and others did not, these discussions might influence (consciously or unconsciously) or be represented or construed as influencing the mark the teacher submits to the subject alignment group.

The Minister has been emphatic that where a person seeks to improperly influence the estimation process, this will lead to withholding of results or more serious consequences. This aspect is being taken very seriously and further and detailed information on consequences of such behaviour is expected to be published by the Department shortly.

For more information on our Senior Cycle Programs, Nectar 16+ and Study Success, contact Elaine on 087 2996054 or elaine@hummingbirdlearning.com

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