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Choice of calculated grade or written exams for Leaving Cert

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound, on 17/02/2021. Choice of calculated grade or written exams for Leaving CertTags: Parenting Education And Politics

Following a Government decision today, Minister for Education Norma Foley TD confirmed that Leaving Certificate 2021 examinations will proceed and students will also have the alternative option of applying for grades accredited by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), to be known as SEC-Accredited Grades.

This decision follows intensive engagement with education stakeholders bilaterally and through the Planning for State Examinations 2021 Advisory Group and sub-group.

This decision ensures for every student a method to assess their learning and attainment at the end of their post-primary education and to progress to higher and further education, and the world of work.

Putting in place both the examination and a corresponding measure of SEC-Accredited Grades is essential to ensuring a fair system, having regard to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and the loss of learning that has occurred for this group of students due to the interruption of in-person teaching and learning during the periods of school closure.

The timetable for the written examinations in June will be published tomorrow by the State Examinations Commission. 

For those choosing to take the Leaving Certificate exams, oral examinations will be held during the Easter vacation or shortly after. Coursework will proceed in subjects where these form a normal part of the examination. Additional time will be provided by the SEC for completion of this work.  In some subjects the holding of practical examinations will not be possible given public health considerations and this will be advised as soon as possible. Details of revised schedules will be issued to schools in the coming weeks.

The Minister’s strongly held view is that students must be afforded the choice as to whether to sit the examinations, including the oral and coursework components, as it would be entirely unfair to students to require them to participate in these elements, given the disruption in learning which has occurred.  The oral and coursework components of the examinations will not form part of the Accredited Grade process.
Further details and guidance on both processes will be provided to schools and students and publicised widely over the coming weeks, as these become available.

Minister Foley said: “The Government has today approved a plan which was developed during intensive engagement by my Department with education stakeholders, students, parents, teacher unions, school management bodes and the State Examinations Commission, National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Higher Education Authority and representatives of higher education, to ensure a fair process so that Leaving Certificate students can progress to the next stage of their lives.

“All stakeholders have worked extremely hard to get to this point. I have listened carefully to all, and we have worked together to find solutions. Students and parents have been clear on the need for both clarity and choice which I believe his decision gives them.  

“As requested by the student representatives we explored thoroughly the option of providing the SEC-Accredited Grades to students in advance of the written examinations, but this option is not possible.

“I am conscious that many students are concerned that they have not covered the full curriculum for their subjects in class, due to the interruption of in-person learning caused by the pandemic.

“Everyone wants a system that is fair and that provides the opportunity for real progression for students.  “I want to thank sincerely all the stakeholders involved in the Advisory Group process, and I look forward to continuing to work together over the coming months in further developing and implementing these plans.”

All aspects of staging the examinations will be guided by public health advice and schools will be supported and given clear guidance on the staging of the examinations.

The holding of the examinations in November last year, even with a relatively small group of students, has provided valuable experience and insights that will be applied in the coming written examinations.

The results of the Leaving Certificate 2021 process will issue to students within the required timeframe for CAO admission to higher and further education. The Department will engage with the Department of Higher and Further Education, Research, Innovation and Science in this regard.  The results will also issue within the timeframe currently required by UCAS. 
Junior Cycle Examinations
The Junior Cycle examinations will not be run in 2021. Schools will be provided with guidance on continuing to engage this year group in online learning and assessment during the period of school closure and through in-person learning when schools re-open.




(18/02/2021 08:42)

ASTI Statement 17/2/21

ASTI disappointed Accredited Grades not underpinned by external assessment

On 5th February, Minister Foley announced a new phase of planning for the State Examinations to include both the provision of Leaving Certificate examinations and also exploring a corresponding non-examination process.

Confidential, bilateral discussions with stakeholders, including the ASTI, began immediately.

The ASTI is committed to ensuring that ways are found that enable students to progress in their lives in the context of the pandemic.

Leaving Certificate:

The ASTI concern was that the established Leaving Certificate would be side-lined or downgraded in this process. We demanded that the second components, coursework, project work, orals and aurals would proceed and welcome the fact that this principle has been conceded.

We also successfully insisted that no gap-filling of the established Leaving Certificate using estimations gleaned from the SEC Accredited Grades process would take place in a context whereby second components, coursework, project work, orals and aurals would run.

SEC Accredited Grades:

The ASTI is bitterly disappointed that this process is not underpinned in any way by externally validated elements such as coursework, projects etc. It is disappointing that the Department of Education were unwilling to allow such grounding data. SEC Accredited Grades will prove a very challenging proposition for all concerned given the lack of credible data.

The unavailability of an option for students to undertake externally validated second components, coursework, project work, orals and aurals if they opt to choose the pathway of SEC Accredited Grades adds to this omission and is a regrettable injustice for these students.

The achievement by the ASTI of the removal of a requirement for teachers to place their students in a rank order of merit in their class is a positive development.

ASTI holds the view that what has been announced today should never have been considered beyond being a contingency measure should the Leaving Certificate have to be cancelled due to the pandemic.

Junior Certificate:

The ASTI notes the decision not to run with the Junior Certificate Examinations again this year. It was widely regarded that the arrangements put in place last year were appropriate in light of the pandemic. The ASTI will seek to ensure that an appropriate acknowledgement and conclusion is brought to the work of Junior Cycle students.

The ASTI will refer the Minister’s announcement to our Executive and consult more widely within our union in the coming days.


(18/02/2021 08:43)

ISSU Statement : ISSU Welcomes and Supports Decision on State Examinations

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) welcomes and supports today’s announcement by Minister for Education Norma Foley that Leaving Certificate 2021 students will have the option to receive SEC accredited grades, written exams, or both. We also welcome the clarity that has been provided to Junior Cycle students.

Since the beginning of the state exams negotiations, the ISSU has consistently called for Clarity, Choice and Compassion for students. The ISSU believes that these elements have now been taken into account by the Department and other education stakeholders in the provisions for the 2021 Leaving Certificate.

ISSU Education Officer, Alicia O’Sullivan, today said: “We are delighted that students have finally received clarity about their state exams. We are also proud that we have delivered choice for students. As a stakeholder, we at the ISSU have brought pragmatic and realistic proposals to the table, many of which are evident in today’s announcement. The student voice has been heard in these negotiations, and we will continue to work to ensure that is always the case”.

The ISSU does, however, regret that students who opt-in to receive calculated grades will not receive them before the written examinations. Speaking about this, ISSU President, Reuban Murray stated: “We had presented proposals and timelines to the Advisory Group and the State Exams Commission in an effort to provide these results to students before the written exams, however it became apparent that this would be an impossible task. The ISSU will never advocate for unrealistic solutions that would give our members false hope. We needed to find a real solution and this IS a real solution - this is what students have asked for and the Department and Minister Foley have heard the student voice.”

The ISSU will continue to engage with the Department of Education & Skills and other education stakeholders through the Advisory Group on State Examinations to ensure that this process is as fair as possible for students. This will include pushing for fairer solutions with regard to the appeals system and further choice on written exam papers, as well as ensuring that the algorithm for calculated grades stands up to scrutiny.

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