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Leaving Cert mocks results must not be used for accredited grades, schools told


A mural near St John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

A mural near St John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

A mural near St John Bosco Youth Centre in Drimnagh, Dublin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Teachers will not be able to use the results of mock exams when estimating marks for Leaving Cert students under the accredited grades process.

Some schools have already cancelled theirs, but others may still be planning to run a full mock exam timetable in the coming weeks.

The “mocks” are used in the run-up to the June exams and most schools hold them, usually in January and February.

Schools have been closed since Christmas but 63,000 sixth years are returning to the classroom next Monday for the first time since December.

Candidates for this year’s Leaving Cert have a choice between accredited grades – based on teachers’ estimates of their level of attainment – and sitting the June exams.

Some may choose both.

Accredited grades will be broadly similar to last year’s calculated grades, with teachers’ marks going through a national standardisation process to produce the final grades for each student.

Schools are awaiting guidance from the Department of Education on how to assess students for accredited grades.

The advice will be to use a variety of evidence to be gathered up until May 14 as a basis for the teachers’ estimated marks – but not including results of mock exams.

The department would not comment on guidance being prepared.

“Information regarding mock exams will be included in a Guide to the State Examinations and the SEC Accredited Grades process, which is to be published by early next week,” a spokesperson stated.

However, principals are already being briefed on what to expect.

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The “mocks” are not part in the official State exams process – schools buy them in from private providers – but are seen as a dry-run for June.

The tests are valuable in giving students an insight into their academic progress as well as familiarising them with the exam experience.

But the unregulated nature of the mocks process means there are a number of problems that mean the results must be treated with caution.

Students may have seen a paper in advance, exams may be supervised or unsupervised and marking may be done in school or by the external provider.

As schools may already have paid for papers for the mocks exam, some may use them as a basis for assessments in the same way as they use past State exam papers.

However, the advice to schools will be to steer clear of “mocks by any other name” when it comes to accumulating evidence for accredited grades.

The guidance will aim to ensure that both the over assessment of pupils is avoided and that the time left in the school year is used to maximise tuition.

Pupils in primary classes from junior infants to second are also returning next Monday as are the Leaving Certificate students.

It has emerged that where primary schools have multi-grade classes involving second class and more senior pupils, for example second and third class pupils together, all pupils in those classes return.

Similarly where fifth and sixth year students are in the same class for some subjects then all students in the class can attend school for those subjects.

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