Written answers

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of John LahartJohn Lahart (Dublin South West, Fianna Fail)
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173. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if the grades of a person (details supplied) will be examined; if all factors were considered when awarding the grades; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30474/20]

Norma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
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The decision to adopt a model of Calculated Grades by my Department was a result of COVID-19, which prevented the State from running the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations. The purpose of this process was to allow as many students as possible to progress to employment, further education and training, or higher education.

The system of calculated grades is underpinned by key principles of objectivity, equity and fairness. The process has been designed to arrive at fair representations of student performance which does not favour any type of student or school.

Circular 0037/2020, which was published on 21 May, set out the detailed guidance for schools on the operation of the calculated grades process. The document provided detailed information on the process of estimating marks for students to receive calculated grades. Additional guidance to schools on the avoidance of unconscious bias and interpreting evidence of achievement in the case of students with disabilities was issued to schools on 28 May.

In line with the guidance, teachers were asked to use their professional judgement to arrive at an estimated mark for each student. The guidance required teachers to utilise a number of records in assessing a student’s performance and progress; for example, classwork and homework; class assessments; examinations in school at Christmas or summer, mock exams and also coursework.

The same guidance also advised schools that where any reasonable accommodation had been approved for any student, (such as a reader, scribe or waiver), the estimate of the student’s likely performance was to be based on the assumption that this accommodation would have been available had the examinations been conducted in the normal way.

Since accommodations are intended to reflect students’ normal way of working in class, this would not have required any special intervention beyond the teacher’s existing understanding of how the student gets on with the relevant supports in place.

Therefore, a student’s access to any reasonable accommodation is also reflected in the final Calculated Grade awarded to the students.

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