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Universities body prefers a return to 'normalised grading' for Leaving Cert

A survey released by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union this week showed 68% of students want a ‘hybrid-model’ Leaving Cert.

Image: Shutterstock/panitanphoto

THE IRISH UNIVERSITIES Association has said it would prefer a return to a normalised grading pattern for the Leaving Cert. 

Its director-general Jim Miley said that to return to a ‘hybrid-model’ as used last year would “exacerbate a bottle-neck” in the number of students applying to college and causing pressures within the system. 

His comments come as Sinn Féin has announced plans to bring a motion to the Dáil on Tuesday, insisting that the traditional model “cannot go ahead” as planned.

A survey released by the Irish Second-Level Students’ Union this week showed 68% of students want a ‘hybrid-model’ Leaving Cert used in 2022.

This would involve a similar set up to last year, with students being offered the choice between sitting the traditional exams, and having their grade assessed by their teachers and then ‘standardised’ by the Department of Education. If they choose to do both, the higher of the two grades will be their final grade.

Jim Miley told RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday programme that there will be “consequences if we repeat what was done last year” with the exams. 

“Firstly, we saw an unprecedented grade inflation over the last couple of years. That meant that many students who got their acquired grades for particular courses didn’t get a place because a lot more places had to be allocated through random selection,” he said.

Miley told broadcaster Katie Hannon that last year’s hybrid system saw Leaving Cert results getting delayed, with it “well into September before many students got their offers”. 

“Because of those delayed offers the induction or orientation of first year students was seriously curtailed,” he said, adding that this “made it almost impossible for first year students” to find accommodation. 

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“So we would say we should return to a more normalised grade pattern and it’s hard to see how that can be done with the estimated grades process.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has said he will bring forward a motion to the Dáil that seeks to secure a choice for this year’s Leaving Cert students between calculated grades and written examinations.

“The Leaving Cert class of 2022 cannot continue to be left in limbo by the Minister for Education. Now is the time to reassure them and provide some clarity,” the Cork TD said. 

“The message from Leaving Cert students could not be any clearer; they need a choice, between written exams and calculated grading, in recognition of the significant disruption they have experienced in their learning over the last two years due to Covid-19.

“These voices must be listened to. The Minister for Education’s proposal of traditional exams simply cannot go ahead.”

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