Full disclosure here – I have a massive interest in Calculated Grades as my youngest is in Leaving Cert. It has been a roller coaster of emotions and they will run high again when the results are issued, but for now Calculated Grades have grounded us and given us a level of certainty. That said, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate exams, when it becomes feasible to hold them, remains open to all students.
What is a Calculated Grade?
A Calculated Grade is a grade awarded following the combination of (a) school information about a student’s expected performance in an examination and (b) national data from the State Examinations Commission in relation to the performance of students in examinations over a period.
Do Not Contact the School
There are two reasons only that a student should engage with their school – if they are studying a subject outside of school (not grinds) e.g. Polish or if they want to drop to a lower level in a subject. Other than that, a student or family member must not engage with the school, the principal or subject teachers.
Students with Special Educational Needs
Where any reasonable accommodation has been approved for any student (such as a reader or scribe), the grade will reflect the estimate of the student’s likely performance as it is assumed that this accommodation would have been available.
Role of the School
The role of the school is to provide marks and rankings that reflect:
- An estimation of the percentage mark in each subject that each candidate is likely to have achieved if they had sat the Leaving Certificate examination in 2020 under normal conditions
- A class ranking for each student in each subject – i.e. a list of all the candidates for a subject in a class, in the order of their estimated level of achievement.
To achieve this, there are 6 Principles underpinning the Calculated Grades Process – Teacher Professionalism, Support for Students, Objectivity, Fairness and Equity, Collaboration, and Timeliness.
4 Steps to Calculated Grades
To estimate marks and rankings, the school takes 4 main steps:
- Using their professional judgment, the subject teacher objectively estimates each student’s mark and class ranking, drawing on existing records and available evidence such as classwork and homework, class, Christmas, and summer tests, and (with caveats) the mocks. They will also include performance on any coursework component, even if this has not been fully completed, previous results in the school in this subject, the performance level the teacher has observed in this year’s students compared to those in previous years and any other relevant information related to student performance. The previous awarding of 100% for oral & music exams has now been retracted.
- Then the group of teachers who are teaching the subject to Leaving Certificate students this year meet. The purpose is not to discuss individual students. Rather class teachers are focusing on ensuring that the process of arriving at estimated marks and rank has been correctly applied and that marks have been properly aligned.Once done, each teacher reviews their estimates and rankings, adjusts if necessary, and finalises a completed estimated mark form for each student in the class group. (Importantly, throughout this process only the class teacher can change the estimated mark or rank order for a class group.) The individual student forms and the completed rank order form for the class group are submitted to the school principal through the subject teachers’ group as the product of the subject alignment process.
- The School Principal reviews the process to ensure the fair treatment of individual students and that a uniformity of standard is applied within the school and in situations where more than one class group is entered for a subject i.e. different teachers of the same subject within the school are applying similar standards. Where it appears that an anomaly or error has arisen, the principal will return a data set for further review to the subject alignment group. In such circumstances, the principal does not have a role in altering a student’s estimated mark or rank; their role is to return the queried marks/rankings to the subject alignment group for further review. The finalised data sets are submitted to the Department by the principal (ideally by end May 2020).
- The Department applies national standardisation using statistical methods by combining the school-sourced data with historical data available from the State Examinations Commission (SEC). Each school’s expected distributions will be arrived at from the statistical analysis of all the historic SEC datasets. These data sets allow the production of good calculations of the distributions of marks to be expected for each school and nationally. The rank order within the class group is kept in this process but the teachers’ estimated marks from each school will be adjusted to bring them into line with the expected distribution for the school.The calculated marks will then be converted into calculated grades, and these grades issued as close as possible to the normal results day. The calculated grades will be expressed in the same manner as currently applies to Leaving Certificate grades – H1 etc.
There will be an appeals process, if a student is unhappy with their calculated grade and I will write a guide to it closer to the results being issued.
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