I propose to take Questions Nos. 247, 250, 262, 281, 285, 302, 339 and 404 together.
Calculated Grades are decided based on data on each candidate provided by schools. The calculated grades system will combine estimates of a student’s expected performance in a subject and level, with information about how students in the school have fared in this subject in recent years in line with national performance standards over time. The National standardisation process does not favour any type of student or school.
When the estimated marks from a school are standardised, if a candidate is a particularly strong candidate in a class – irrespective of the school attended – then that student will still emerge as a particularly strong candidate, and the calculated grade will be as close to what would have achieved in the examinations as it is possible to calculate.
Whether or not the marks in any subject from a school move up or down during National standardisation depends on the accuracy with which teachers and schools have made their estimates, not on the kind of school a student is attending. For example, it is possible that the estimated marks in one subject from a school will need to be moved up and the marks in another subject from the same school will need to be moved down.
The most important information about each student is the marks and ranking that the school provides to the Department. National standardisation uses two further sources of information to adjust a school’s estimated marks if there is evidence that a school has been too harsh or too lenient in a given subject. The way these two sources of information are used is interconnected.
The first of the two further sources of information for the National standardisation process is the Junior Cycle/Certificate actual marks attained by the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 taking a particular subject in the given school, and the second is about the general pattern of results in the subject from Leaving Certificate classes in that school over a number of years.
This information will all be assembled and will be used to predict the level of achievement that this year’s Leaving Certificate group would have been expected to reach in that subject if they had sat the Leaving Certificate examination in the normal way. This means that if a given class is a particularly “strong class”, the expected level of achievement of that class would reflect that fact and so the National standardisation process will take full account of it. If the school’s estimated marks reflect this properly, then there will not be a need to move them up or down.
Research and statistics allow my Department to understand the extent to which groups of students in a school have results that are similar from one year to the next. These sources also allow my Department to take account of the fact that individuals within those groups can have levels of achievement that can vary quite a lot.
The information about each individual and their peers is combined with the information about the school’s previous results and previous groups to allow checks that the marks and rankings for each subject in a school and all other schools are reasonable. This means that all candidates across the country are treated fairly.
Most importantly, I can confirm that the statistical process being applied will not impose any predetermined score on any individual in a class or school.