Donegal Minister announces publication of guidance for schools on Calculated Grades

Five ways to avoid Leaving Cert anxiety

Five ways to avoid Leaving Cert anxiety

Donegal politician and Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD has published detailed guidance on the new system of Calculated Grades for this year’s Leaving Certificate. 

The document was sent to all post-primary schools yesterday, to provide teachers and principals with information on the process of estimating marks for students to receive Calculated Grades.

 The guide has been produced in consultation with education partners following the decision to postpone Leaving Certificate 2020 examinations, taken as a protective measure as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister McHugh said: “The guide is the result of intensive work and engagement by the Department, teachers and school management in recent days.

 “It is designed to give teachers and principals clear and precise guidance on how to provide the Department with an estimated mark and a class ranking for each Leaving Certificate student.

“At all times we have put fairness and the interests of the students at the heart of our decision making. The guidance is very clear and strict on the issue of canvassing of teachers and principals. Canvassing would be unfair to students and to staff in a school, and it will not be tolerated in any circumstances.

 “I’d like to thank all of the members of the advisory group of stakeholders who have worked so hard on the whole question of the 2020 state examinations process and have contributed to the development of this guidance.”

 The document Guide for Schools on Providing Estimated Percentage Marks and Class Rank Orderings is available at

 As part of the process of Calculated Grades, Leaving Certificate students will have access to an online portal from early next week where they will be required to confirm the subject level  at which they initially entered for the examinations or to change to a lower level.

The guide provides detailed information on how the Calculated Grades process should be operated in schools.


Among the information outlined in the guidance document is -


:: Advice on the range of information that teachers should use to inform the school’s judgements about estimated marks


:: Guidance on how teachers can work together to ensure alignment of marks across students and classes in schools


:: Details about how principals will oversee the process within schools


:: Rules around canvassing setting out how schools will be required to report instances to the Department.


:: External candidates – the Department will look at these students on a case by case basis and will be flexible. Every effort will be made to provide an estimated mark where there is sufficient credible evidence of the student’s achievement. 


:: Indemnity – as teachers and school leaders will be implementing the Calculated Grades process in schools on behalf of the Minister, arrangements have been put in place to extend a State indemnity to them and to the boards of management of their schools.


Further supports and information for students, teachers and principals in relation to the implementation of the Calculated Grades model are being provided.


The system of Calculated Grades is being offered to all 2020 Leaving Certificate candidates. Students will have the opportunity to appeal their results.


Students can also opt to sit the Leaving Certificate exams when they are held, which will be when public health advice permits.


The timing of the results of the Calculated Grades process will run as close as possible to the usual results system.




Under the system outlined in the guidance document, teachers will use their professional judgement, taking into account a range of evidence from a student’s past performance, to estimate the percentage mark a student would most likely have received had they sat the Leaving Certificate examination under normal conditions.


The estimated percentage marks and rankings will undergo an in school alignment process, involving colleague teachers of the same subject, to ensure that the standard being applied is consistent and appropriate for the subject. The principal will oversee the process and will also oversee the submission of the school’s estimated marks and class rankings.


The school’s estimated marks and class ranking will undergo a process of national standardisation. This will provide each student with a Calculated Grade. This process is outlined in the Department’s recent document: Guide to Calculated Grades.


The Calculated Grades system will be overseen by an Executive Office in the Department of Education and Skills, established by the Minister for that purpose.

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