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Leaving Cert students to get their results later than usual on September 3

October 14, 2021

Original Article:

Leaving Cert results will issue to more than 60,000 students on Friday, September 3.

It is later than the traditional mid-August date, but slightly earlier than 2020, when calculated grades, now called accredited grades, were used for the first time.   

The later than usual release gives time for the processing of the dual assessment system on offer this year.

Candidates had a choice of receiving accredited grades or sitting exams, or both, and more than 90pc have opted for a mix, in one or more subjects.

Accredited grades are based on teachers’ estimated marks, which will go through a national standardisation process to produce the final grades.

CAO Round 1 offers will follow on a date to be announced, which is under consideration by the higher education institutions.

Similar to last year, a later release of Leaving Cert results will mean a tighter timeframe for the CAO college offer entry process, but colleges are putting plans in place.

But the delayed date for the Leaving Cert results sparked political criticism. 

Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said it was “very disappointing” that the results would be delayed again this year.

He said he was concerned that the process around college offers and acceptances and finding accommodation would be "very rushed and stressful for students”.

Mr Ó Laoghaire also expressed concern about the impact on Leaving Cert candidates who intend to go to college in the North, in Britain or mainland Europe.

"Some of these courses begin on 1st September, before the results are even proposed to be issued here. They will no doubt be very worried now, that the delays might cause them to miss out.”

He has urged Ms Foley to ensure that they don’t miss out on opportunities.

Labour’s education spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin called on the minister to bring the release of the results forward to mid-August.

He said providing Leaving Cert results on September 3 would delay the start of the academic year and create more anxiety for students who have already endured a roller-coaster year.

“The written exams are taking place at the usual time, and the accredited grades system is already in place, so I am at a loss as to why the results date will be in September,” he said

Mr Ó Ríordáin said the University of Limerick and NUI Galway had already listed their start dates as September 6, while UCC, UCD and Trinity College Dublin were all listed to start teaching on September 13.

“This decision will unnecessarily push students into snap decisions, with no space for reflection, organisation, orientation or to secure accommodation,” he said.

Dublin City University this evening said the higher education institutions and CAO were working on a new schedule for CAO offers and acceptances in light of the later than usual date for the Leaving Cert results.

It said it had planned to begin orientation for first year students on September 13, with teaching for all students commencing a week later on September 20. 

However the later date for results will now implications for its preparations for the start of the next academic year.

It stressed that continuing undergraduate students will resume their studies on September 20 as planned.

The written exams start next Wednesday, June 9, and will run until June 29.

If students sit an exam in a subject as well as having an accredited grade, and there is a difference in the results, they will be awarded the better of the two.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) is responsible for both assessment processes.

In a normal year, the SEC is in a race against time to produce the results of written exams by mid-August and, in 2021, it also has to deliver the accredited grades simultaneously.

Announcing the date, Education Minister Norma Foley said students would receive their results through the SEC Candidate Self Service Portal.

Initially, about 63,000 candidates were entered for Leaving Cert 2021 and final year Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) exams but, when it came to submitting choices around exams/accredited grades, about 4pc did not make any selection.

Of those who did, 99pc opted for an accredited grade in at least one subject and 91pc opted to sit an exam in at least one subject.

A short time after the results are released, students will have access to more detailed information, which will be of help for anyone considering an appeal.

At that stage, candidates who took only the exam in a subject will be able to see the marks awarded in the written exam and the marks awarded in any components, such as an oral or a practical.

For students who opted only for accredited grades in any subjects, both the percentage marks submitted by their school and the accredited grade will be available.

Students going for both exams and accredited grades in any subjects will receive information in respect of both sets of results for those subjects.

Ms Foley said the usual helplines and supports would be in place for students on results day and beyond.

She said she would also be in contact with schools asking them to ensure that guidance support was available to students at the time.

As she wished exam students well in their final preparations, the minister stressed the importance of avoiding risk of exposure to Covid-19 in the coming days and weeks.

She said they should “continue to follow the public health advice and limit their contacts as the examinations approach and during the examination period”.

A US-based non-profit organisation, Education Testing Services (ETS), has been awarded the tender to design and implement the accredited grades.

A second set of consultants is being appointed as a quality assurance measure to minimise the risk of error and to instil confidence in the accredited grades process.

There was controversy last year when almost 7,000 grades awarded under a similar process, known as calculated grades, were found to be incorrect.

Accredited grades will be available to all candidates as a backup in the event that they cannot sit an exam, or subsequently decide that they don’t want to do a paper.

Students will not be allowed to sit an exam if they have a Covid-19 diagnosis or are a close contact of a confirmed case and are self-isolating or restricting their movements.

In some circumstances, Public Health teams may also refuse entry to an exam to a student who is unwell and where Covid-19 infection cannot categorically be ruled out.

In a worst-case scenario of a serious outbreak, an exam centre, or centres, in a school will be closed, with no alternative sitting for students.

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