As I said in the Seanad when the same amendment was tabled, I agree with it in principle but I must reiterate the point that I made on that occasion in response to what is being requested by the Deputy. Fundamentally, the process of standardisation will operate at national level. It is preferable to use aggregate or cohort data, as the evidence is that the use of junior cycle data in the regression model is of better predictive quality when done at a class group rather than an individual level, which is the same view as the Deputy has expressed.
The amendment as drafted is potentially problematic. In general, some flexibility is needed on precisely what is included in the standardisation process rather than being overly defined by the Act. I cannot agree to the amendment, as in certain cases it is necessary to rely on the individual junior cycle result of an individual student, where that student is typically an out-of-school learner or a student pursuing a subject out of school. This was the case in 2020 in respect of calculated grades and it is set out in the published national standardisation group report.
In addition, in order to ensure we were being clear about the junior cycle's potential use in standardisation, the guide to State examinations and accredited grades for leaving certificate 2021, which issued in February, stated: "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." However, the accredited grades system is, overall, subject to the determination of policy by me. Specifically, section 2(2)(d) operates "in accordance with such policy directions as the Minister may give". On that basis, in rejecting the amendment, I am happy to include in my determination under section 2(1), which is our intention in any event, a policy direction expressly stating that the junior cycle and leaving certificate data used in the process of standardisation will be aggregated or cohort data subject to the flexibility referred to above in limited cases.