Written answers

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Paul MurphyPaul Murphy (Dublin South West, RISE)
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120. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the way in which the leaving certificate calculated grades standardisation algorithm works (details supplied). [23184/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The design of the Calculated Grades model was informed by advice from a Technical Working Group comprising experts drawn from the State Examinations Commission, the Inspectorate of my Department, the Educational Research Centre, and international external expertise.

The standardisation model for Leaving Certificate 2020 is a statistical procedure and has been subject to a high degree of human oversight by the National Standardisation Group.  A number of safeguards were built in to ensure fair results for students.

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.

Schools will have taken different approaches to providing estimated percentage marks for their students. While clear guidance was provided to schools during the process of estimating marks for their students, it is inevitable that some schools will have been overly harsh in their estimations while others will have been overly generous. This is to be expected given that there is no national standard on which to base an estimated percentage mark.

The standardisation process seeks to bring schools into line with each other across a national standard. This results in some estimated marks being reduced while others will have increased. 

The Leaving Certificate results from any one year are considered equivalent to the results from any other year. In the Leaving Certificate examinations, standardisation is implemented though the script marking process. This year, the national standardisation process combines the school estimates and other data to ensure the Calculated Grades reflect standards that are properly aligned across schools. 

On 1 September, I announced details in relation to the Calculated Grades model following approval of proposals made to Government. The change proposed removed the use of school-by-school historical data in the standardisation model.

The change made placed a greater emphasis on the estimated marks provided by schools to individual students. The process, through the examination and adjustment of estimated percentage marks from schools, still fulfilled its key role of ensuring that the calculated grades iron out the unfairness that could arise when different schools applied various standards when judging the performance of students.

Technical details of the Calculated Grades model and standardisation process were published on the date of issue of the results and are available .  To issue the technical detail of the modelling process in advance of the release of grades would risk detracting from the core principle of providing the most fair and equitable set of results for each candidate.

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