ASTI: Leaving Cert students allowed to choose assessment level

ASTI: Leaving Cert students allowed to choose assessment level
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Leaving Cert students will be able to choose what level they are assessed under before their calculated grades are finalised. 

Students can nominate whether they are assessed under Higher or Ordinary level before their grade estimations are completed, the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) has told its members. 

Conflicts of interest in a school, like a parent teaching their child, will also have to be declared, and teachers must not be subjected to any influence, pressure or coercion by parents, guardians or students.

Official, detailed guidance on how teachers will issue calculated grades is expected to be issued tomorrow. This was signalled by Joe McHugh, the Minister for Education, earlier this week. This guidance is expected to outline exactly how teachers should arrive at estimated marks and a student's class ranking. 

One of the safeguards built into the process includes declaring conflicts of interest within a school. The ASTI has also sought full legal protection for teachers to be put in place, and it has sought legal advice from its own advisers. 

According to the ASTI, the mark and ranking of students submitted to the national standardisation process cannot be considered as a mark from an individual teacher. 

"This is because the judgement of an individual teacher is subject to a school-based alignment process prior to finalisation." While students can appeal their grades, this is confined to checking for errors in data entry. 

Student's work that has already been submitted to the State Examinations Commission is understood to be en route back to teachers who now will need it for assessment. 

While the Department of Education has asked that schools have their end of the data processed and submitted by the end of May, the ASTI believes this target is “overly ambitious.”

Once schools have signed off on students' estimated grades, they will be submitted to the Department of Education for standardisation. Updated guidance published by the department this week says that any attempts to influence, pressure or coerce a teacher for a certain grade will be regarded as "totally inappropriate". 

Both the ASTI and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) have raised concerns over the fairness and equity of the process of calculated grades.

Both unions say they will support the process during the current emergency but this should not be taken as setting a precedent, or as an agreement to operate such measures in the future. 

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