Yes, no, maybe! Calculated grades will be produced for all Leaving Cert candidates and it will be up to students to decide whether they want to opt in, via an online system, to receive the grades.
A student may instead decide to wait to sit the Leaving Cert exams, whenever they are held. November is the earliest date mentioned.
Can I do both?
Yes, a student may opt for calculated grades and, if they are not happy with the outcome, they can then decide to sit the exams.
A student who has already received calculated grades can sit exams in one or more subjects and combine the best results from both for CAO purposes.
However, the written exams will not be held in time for the results to be used as basis for college entry this year.
So it looks like I don't have anything to lose by opting in for calculated grades?
No, you don't have anything to lose. You can have it both ways.
Can I change the level at which I take a subject for the purposes of calculated grades? I was thinking of dropping down to ordinary level maths.
Yes. Students may re-nominate the subject levels (higher, ordinary, foundation) at which they wish to receive their calculated grades. They can stay at the level previously entered or go down to a lower level.
When do I have to decide on the subject level?
It is expected that a facility to re-nominate subject level will become available to students from Monday.
This will be a process put in place by the Department of Education. Teachers are being advised not to seek confirmation from students.
For the moment, schools are proceeding on the basis that each student remains entered for the subject at the level last discussed with them.
Any idea how many students are likely to go for calculated grades?
There are 61,000 candidates entered for the Leaving Cert and it is impossible to say how many will opt for the new system.
A recent survey by the Irish Second-Level Students' Union suggested that 79pc of sixth years would be happy with calculated grades as an alternative to sitting exams at a rescheduled date in the summer.
When will the calculated grades be issued?
They are hoping to release the results as close as possible to the usual mid-August date for the publication of Leaving Cert results, but there is nothing definite.
I have heard the terms 'estimated marks/ranking' and 'calculated grades'. Is there a difference?
The 'estimated mark' will be based on a student's past performance and a teacher's judgment of how they would fare if they sat the exams as normal in June.
'Ranking' is where the student is rated against the rest of the class. These will be awarded by teachers and ultimately will be signed off by school principals and sent to the Department of Education.
A special unit within the Department will process all those results. This is called national standardisation and at the end of that, a calculated grade will be awarded to every student for every subject.
This is all very new. Can I depend on my teachers to be fair?
Teachers are professionals who know their students well. Detailed guidelines on how to approach the estimated marking/ranking process have been issued and online training is being provided.
There are also strict protocols around any attempts by students, parents or anyone else to seek more favourable grades for any student.
If a student is so unhappy with a calculated grade awarded that they take a legal challenge, the State-backed indemnity being extended to teachers and schools comes with the condition that they acted in good faith in awarding marks/rankings and the school would be asked to show the documentation.
If there are a few students of very similar standard in a class, how will the teacher decide on ranking ?
That will be up to a teacher's professional judgement following a review of marks awarded. If, after going through the various options for estimating marks, two or more students end up on the same percentage, the teacher will have to review the situation and separate them.
A suggestion that may make it easier is to mark students out of 1,000, rather than 100. This offers more scope to differentiate and, when converted to percentages, it would automatically create a ranking.
When will teachers and schools do this work and submit the estimated marks/rankings to the Department of Education?
Originally, the end of May was pencilled in for the completion of this work in schools. However, teasing out the finer detail of the guidance and the legal indemnity to teachers and schools has taken until today, so it is likely that it will run into early June.
Who is involved in this special calculated grades unit?
Senior officials from the Department of Education and staff from the State Examinations Commission with relevant expertise are also being seconded.
Dr Áine Lawlor, former Director of the Teaching Council, will chair an Independent Steering Committee on Calculated Grades. Its task will be to oversee the process from the perspective of quality assurance and integrity.