Minister for Education Norma Foley TD has today, Monday 7 September, announced the issue of the results of the 2020 Leaving Certificate to over 60,000 students. On what is a very different day than might have been anticipated, today the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 are receiving their results, following the completion of the Calculated Grades process. The class of 2020 faced a unique set of circumstances and the decision to provide students with Calculated Grades was taken with the very best interests of students at heart and in full consultation with the partners in education.
Announcing the results today, Minister Foley sent her congratulations and best wishes in a letter to the Leaving Certificate Class of 2020:
“This is a very different day from what we had anticipated for you, and from what you had planned and dreamed for yourselves. I do appreciate what an especially difficult time you have had over the past six months, and I want to commend you for the patience, courage and resilience you have shown in that time.
“The creation of the Calculated Grades system came about to ensure there would be a mechanism to enable the class of 2020 to progress to work or further and higher education on completion of your second level school experience.
“This has been a challenging time for students, their families and school communities. However, I do believe what has been created is the fairest possible solution given the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves as we journey together through the Covid-19 pandemic. Today, with confidence, you can look back with pride on all that you have achieved and look forward with courage to the next exciting phase of your lives.”
The overall number of students due to sit the examinations in 2020 is 60,419. Of those 57,569 students followed the Leaving Certificate (Established) programme, of which 13,470 (22.2%) followed the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme. A further 2,850 (4.7%) candidates followed the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme. Students are receiving results for the first time today in the new subjects of Computer Science and Physical Education.
Students can access their results through the student portal from 9 am. It is recognised that for the Leaving Certificate class of 2020 the tradition of coming back to school to celebrate the results with teachers and classmates on the day that the results issue will not be the same as in previous years. Schools played a core role in nurturing and supporting students throughout their years in post-primary education and will be providing support to students in an appropriate way today and in the coming days. A Student Information Guide has also been produced to assist students in understanding their results, accessing their marks, making an appeal against a result and providing details of the later written examinations. This will be available on gov.ie/Leaving Certificate.
Background to the Calculated Grades Process
A Calculated Grade is a grade that can be provided to students following the combination of information provided by the school about a student’s expected performance in an examination and national data available in relation to the performance of students in examinations over a period of time. This approach has been adopted this year as a direct result of Covid-19, which prevented the state from running the conventional Leaving Certificate Examinations.
The focus of the Calculated Grades process has at all times been on the student and not on the system and the recent decision to remove the school-by-school historical data from the national standardisation process underpins this commitment, ensuring that the performance of this cohort of students is not constrained by how their school has historically performed at Leaving Certificate.
The system of Calculated Grades had at its heart at all time concern for this group of students who completed their second level education under the most unprecedented and difficult circumstances. Through the Calculated Grades process the Minister has sought to ensure that the grades students receive today are fair and comparable representations of their levels of achievement. The standardisation process has ensured that anybody using the certificate to make decisions about those holding the certificate can legitimately place equal value on the same grade in the same subject at the same level on the certificates of two different students, without regard to where they went to school.
The Minister has ensured the best possible outcomes for students by placing a high value on the estimates of performance coming from schools with a focus on aligning standards across schools, ensuring that the system was adjusted appropriately for any over or under-estimation coming through the school estimates. While the estimated marks have been subject to a process of adjustment to ensure fairness and comparability across schools, the national standardisation process operated on the premise that the school estimates should only be adjusted through the standardisation process where there was credible statistical evidence to justify changing them.
This process has been operated with rigour and subject to strong governance and oversight arrangements. Today, the Minister is publishing a number of governance and technical documents related to the process including the Discussion Paper of the Technical Working Group whose work informed the development of the approach; the Report of the National Standardisation Group; and the Letter of Opinion from the Independent Steering Committee.
Advice for Students
The wellbeing of the students who receive the Calculated Grades will be supported through a number of additional measures.
- The Leaving Certificate student helpline, at 1800 265 165, which is provided by the National Parents Council post-primary will be available from 11.00 am on 7 September for students to reach a guidance counsellor with any queries that they may have. This helpline will operate until 16 September after the CAO first round offers and is staffed by qualified guidance counsellors. Further details can be found at https://www.npcpp.ie/leaving-cert-helpline
- HSE/HSE-funded service providers will be available to support students through the provision of e-mental health services. https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html
- Wellbeing resources developed by the National Educational Psychological Service are available at www.gov.ie/leavingcert
- CGEO Student Helpline will be available at 1800 111135 or 1800 111136 from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm from Monday 7 September to Wednesday 16 September. Outside of these hours queries may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note this helpline is provided for queries relating to the Calculated Grades results only and cannot provide advice on any other matters. (There is a separate Helpline for Schools. )
Information available from the Central Applications Office (CAO) at www.cao.ie
Notes to Editors
Further background to the Calculated Grades System
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 the Department of Education and Skills, the Educational Research Centre and international external expertise. Over the past, number of weeks the information provided by schools has been combined with other information in a process of national standardisation undertaken by a National Standardisation Group and with oversight being provided by an Independent Steering Committee to assure the quality, fairness and accuracy of the results.
The standardisation model for Leaving Certificate 2020 is a statistical procedure and has been subject to a high degree of human intervention and oversight by the National Standardisation Group. A number of safeguards were built in to ensure fair results for students.
The model’s focus on the school estimated data is reflected in the outcomes, which shows that the vast majority of students have achieved the grades assigned to them by their schools. While their marks may have been adjusted, there has been no change of grade in 79.2% of cases, with 83.1% of all grades either the same or higher than the school estimates while 16.9% of grades are lower. While noting that the model is blind to this information, a higher proportion of grades in DEIS schools were left unchanged than was the case in non-DEIS schools, a higher proportion were moved up, and a lower proportion were moved down.
The data shows that grades changed less frequently in designated disadvantaged (DEIS) schools than in non-disadvantaged schools with 81.2% of grades unchanged in DEIS schools compared to 79.4% in non-DEIS schools.
The aggregated results show that, on average across all subjects, the calculated grades are a stronger set of results than would arise in any normal year, while also being lower than the results that would have emerged if the school estimates had been left unadjusted. The average marks across all subjects and at all levels have increased on average by 4.4 percentage points on last year.
Across all subjects at Higher Level the rate of grade 1s has risen by 3.3 percentage points; the rate of grade 2s has risen by 1.8 percentage points; and the rate of grade 3s by 3.2 percentage points.
At Ordinary Level, where there was less prevalence of overestimation, the rate of grade 1s has risen by 1.7 percentage points; the rate of grade 2s has risen by 1.8 percentage points; and the rate of grade 3s by 0.3 percentage points.
Cases in which Calculated Grades have not been provided
Through this process the vast majority of students in the class of 2020 have been provided with Calculated Grades in all of their subjects. Every effort has been made to provide Calculated Grades to as many students as possible but this has not been possible in some cases.
Of the total number of 408,000 Leaving Certificate (excluding Leaving Certificate Applied) grades due to issue for Leaving Certificate 2020, it has not been possible to generate some 2,500 grades, 0.6 % of the total. This arises in the case of students studying an extra subject outside school or in the case of students studying for their Leaving Certificate independently of any formal educational involvement. To be fair to all other students, an estimated mark could only be accepted from an appropriate source based on credible evidence. Unfortunately, not all students were able to comply with these requirements. These students have access to an appeals process and will be able to sit the later written examinations.
Admissions to Higher Education
The results of all candidates have been transmitted to the Central Applications Office (CAO). This brings about the earliest possible issue of college place offers to candidates. CAO 1st Round offers will be available to applicants from 2pm on Friday 11th September.
Leaving Certificate Applied Programme
This year 2,850 students took their final stage examinations in the two-year Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) programme. LCA students have been building their credits right through the two years of their Leaving Certificate course, so today brings the final stage and full recognition of their achievements.
The results for LCA students differ from those of their counterparts in the established Leaving Certificate. Graduates from the LCA programme receive a single award made on the basis of credits accumulated over the two-year cycle and in the final examinations. This award is given at three levels: Pass for those students with total credits of 60% or over but less than 70%; Merit for 70% or over but less than 85%; and Distinction for 85% and above.
The numbers taking the LCA programme over the past five years and the grades awarded are shown in the following table.
Table 1 LCA Results 2016-2020
Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme
The Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP) is an optional, two year, academic and experience-based programme, available in 2 out of 3 post-primary schools. Candidates following the LCVP take a specified range of Leaving Certificate (Established) subjects as well as a formal and practical programme called the Links Modules. The Links Modules consists of compulsory work experience and enterprise activity together with personal vocational exploration and substantial use of information technology.
The numbers taking the subject over the past five years and the grades awarded are shown in the following table:
Table 2 LCVP Results 2016-2020 (includes a small number of students who have not opted for Calculated Grades)
All statistics provided in this press release are provisional for 2020 and as such are subject to enquiry and appeal.
Numbers of Candidates Sitting the Leaving Certificate 2016-2020
Leaving Certificate (Established and LCVP)
Leaving Certificate Applied Programme
Table 4 All Leaving Certificate Candidature 2016-20120
2016 figures include 2,819 External and 1,445 Repeat Candidates.
2017 figures include 2,623 External and 1,172 Repeat Candidates.
2018 figures include 2,556 External and 907 Repeat Candidates.
2019 figures include 2,726 External and 697 Repeat Candidates
2020 figures include 2,509 External and 618 school-based repeat candidates
Notes for Editors
A. LEAVING CERTIFICATE GRADING SYSTEM
A new grading system was applied to all Leaving Certificate subjects from 2017. The revised grading system reduced the number of grades from 14 in the old system to 8 under the revised arrangements. The following table provides an explanation of the grading system compared to the previous grading system.
OLD GRADE SYSTEM
NEW GRADE SYSTEM
|Higher, Ordinary, Foundation/ Ard, Gnath, Bonn||≥ 90 to 100||A1||≥ 90 to 100||1|
|≥ 85 and < 90||A2||≥ 80 and < 90||2|
|≥ 80 and < 85||B1||≥ 70 and < 80||3|
|≥ 75 and < 80||B2||≥ 60 and < 70||4|
|≥ 70 and < 75||B3||≥ 50 and < 60||5|
|≥ 65 and < 70||C1||≥ 40 and < 50||6|
|≥ 60 and < 65||C2||≥ 30 and < 40||7|
|≥ 55 and < 60||C3||≥ 0 and < 30||8|
|≥ 50 and < 55||D1|
|≥ 45 and < 50||D2|
|≥ 40 and < 45||D3|
|≥ 25 and < 40||E|
|≥ 10 and < 25||F|
|≥ 0 and < 10||NG|
The grading system is being used on the Statements of Provisional Examination Results and on the final Leaving Certificates. The grades are used consistently across all three examination levels – Higher, Ordinary and Foundation. The Statements and Certificates will indicate the level taken using the following notation beside each subject:
B Leaving Certificate Sits by county and gender
(Includes external candidates)
C. LEAVING CERTIFICATE SITS BY COUNTY AND GENDER
|GRAND TOTAL|| 1,241|| 1,609|| 2,850|
Percentage breakdown of candidates by grade awarded in each subject