THE pressure of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations has, quite rightly, been removed from students, most of whom had been stressed by the uncertainty surrounding it. That pressure is now being transferred to their teachers, who are in the invidious position of assessing students through the alternative Calculated Grades for Leaving Certificate Students 2020 process set up by the Minister for Education & Skills, Joe McHugh, who eventually had to concede, following ‘compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students.’
While the exams have been postponed rather than cancelled – there will be an option for students to sit them when it is safe to do so, whenever that might be – students who want to progress to third-level education in the next academic year will have their points for college places based on estimated grades by their teachers.
The teachers’ unions have agreed to participate in the grading process, with the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland pointing out its long-standing policy of teachers not assessing their students for the purpose of State certification to ensure the integrity of the exams process, but recognising that, in the context of the current global pandemic, this year it is necessary to engage with this new process on a one-off basis, but without setting a precedent of the future.
The calculated grades are going to be so difficult to get right. One does not envy the task that faces those doing it.