Wednesday 20 March 2019

New Leaving Cert grading system for students sitting 2017 exam

Students entering fifth year in September will be the first to experience the massive changes
Students entering fifth year in September will be the first to experience the massive changes

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

A new Leaving Certificate grading system and CAO points scale will be in place for candidates sitting the exam in 2017, Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan confirmed today.

Students entering fifth year in September will be the first to experience the massive changes designed to reward effort and excellence while  also taking some of the heat out of the “points race”.

The current 14 band ABC grading system  will be reduced to eight broader bands, ranging form H1 – H8 at higher level and O1-08 at ordinary level.

Instead of the typical gap of five CAO points between grading bands,  the differences will vary to allow for greater distinction between student achievement and, ultimately, less random selection for a college place..

In a provisional  scale for the new system presented today, the maximum points awarded in a subject would be 120 for a H1, down 14, to 106, for the H2, then reducing to 13, for 93 for a  H3, at 93, and reducing by 12 to 91 for a H3.

And in a key move, candidates who achieve between 30 and 39pc on a higher level paper will be awarded points – 45 on the provisional scale presented today.

The points for 30-39pc at higher level will be equivalent to what is awarded for about 60pc- 70pc on an ordinary level paper,  somewhere between a  new  03 and  04 on the new scale.

This is underpinned by research showing that an E grade on a current higher level paper compares with  the standard of a C grade on a current ordinary level paper.

All heads of universities and institutes of technology are putting the proposed changes to their academic council for approval in the next two months, to allow for them to be rolled out by September.

In an inter-connected measure, colleges are committed to reducing the bewildering array of courses by 2017 to simplify choice for CAO applicants at the point of entry.

Ms O’Sullivan said that she wanted to reassure students that the impact of all the changes had been considered and analysed with their best interests in mind.

She said there was widespread agreement that something had to be done to improve some of  the difficulties facing Leaving Certificate students as they left school and sough to enter higher  education.

The minister said a whole system approach was needed and that was what had happened. Work is ongoing  on further possible changes .that may be introduced after 2017..

As well as the universities and instates of technology, who control the CAO, the reform of what happens at the interface between second and third level, also directly involves the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment and the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education.

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