The detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on all strands of society has been vast, with numerous sectors in the local community bearing the negative connotations of the persistent health crisis, none moreso than the Leaving Certificate class of 2020.
Bereft of face to face learning since mid-March with relevant education afforded courtesy of online tutorials, the belief was that they would have the opportunity to sit the state examinations in early June.
As time progressed and further restrictive measures imposed, this date was not to be realised with July 29 announced by Minister for Education, Deputy Joe McHugh, as the key calendar fixture in all sixth year student’s minds.
The Junior Certificate was cancelled in April and now, due to health and safety reasons, the Leaving Certificate has followed a similar path, such news confirmed late last week.
In its stead, all candidates will be offered a State certificate of calculated grades which they can use to progress to further or higher education or employment. The calculated grades will be decided upon based on data ascertained on each Leaving Certificate student from their relevant school.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week following the formal announcement, Mr. Brendan Waldron, Coláiste Chiaráin Principal, noted that he and his teaching colleagues were still in the process of digesting the news.
“My teaching colleagues and I are very much in the process of digesting this news and we await further clarification pertaining to the grading process to be implemented.
“They say that a week is a long time in politics but it appears that this can now be applied to realm of education. This time last week our Leaving Certificate students had the date of July 29 very much etched in their mind as they continued with their preparations and now, due to health and safety concerns, the Department are left with no alternative but to cancel the formal sitting of the state examinations.
“We will engage with the process guidelines with regard to the provision of calculated grades with the best intentions to the fore for each Leaving Certificate student,” Mr.l Waldron stated.
With health concerns paramount, the logistical challenges of hosting state examinations proved insurmountable.
“The health and wellbeing of all students and staff members is vital and this was clear and obvious factor in the Department of Education opting for the alternative solution,” Mr. Waldron added.
Expressing his heartfelt feelings for the Coláiste Chiaráin Leaving Certificate class of 2020, Mr. Waldron acknowledged that the students did not have the opportunity to say a formal farewell to their second level education.
“Unfortunately, there will be no end of year graduation ceremony for our sixth year students. COVID-19 has denied them the opportunity to bid a formal farewell to their friends and teaching staff in the school. In this regard, I have much sympathy for their predicament.
“Hopefully, we my be able to host a virtual farewell in the time to come,” Mr. Waldron acknowledged.
How Calculate Grades Will Work
•Estimation of scores and ranking by Teacher
The subject teacher estimates percentage mark the candidate is likely to have achieved in Leaving Certificate.
The teacher estimates class ranking of each candidate in order of predicted level of achievement for each subject.
Subject teachers review the estimated marks and rankings of students.
Teachers finalise their estimated marks and rankings following alignment process.
•Oversight of marks and rankings by School Principal
The school principal reviews estimated marks and rankings and signs off on behalf of the school.
The school principal may return the estimated marks and rankings to the relevant group of teachers for further consideration.
•National standardisation by Department of Education and Skills
Marks and rankings submitted by schools will be examined and may be adjusted using statistical methods to ensure a common national standard is applied.