Teachers may be expected to rank their students giving them marks out of 1,000 as fears arise over the difficulties in grading students of similar abilities through calculated grades.
Following the cancellation of this summer’s Leaving Cert exams, teachers are being asked to assign students both a grade, and a ranking amongst their class. Concerns have arisen in relation to both of these aspects.
The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) has now told its members that when it comes to the 'class ranking' element, each student may be marked by their teacher out of 1,000 available marks.
“This might be useful in a situation where it would be very challenging to rank a group of students whose attainment is very similar,” the teaching union said, in detailed advice issued to members.
This is relevant in cases where a number of students would be expected to receive the same percentage mark. One approach could be for the teacher to mark students out of 1,000 and convert these marks to percentages.
This would allow “greater refinement” of the teacher’s judgments and automatically create the ranking for the teacher, according to the ASTI.
In cases where two or more students receive identical marks, the teacher will be asked to look again to see what might separate them, the advice added.
Each teacher is also being asked by the Department of Education to "draw from a variety of sources" when it comes to assigning students' grades. Sources cited by the Department of Education include class assessments, Christmas exams, summer exams, mock exams but with some caution, performances on any coursework components like projects or homework, and previous results in the school in the subject.
However, the ASTI believes it will be "inappropriate" to include classwork and homework in these calculations.
The ASTI takes the view that a school, in arriving at the student’s grade to be sent to the Department of Education and Skills for standardisation purposes, should rely only on already published school data.
Published school data would include data already inputted on a school's system, for example Christmas exam results or Summer tests. This would help to avoid suggestions of any biases, as the information has been recorded previously.
Further detailed guidance on the entire calculated grades process is expected to be issued shortly by the Department of Education. The Teachers' Union of Ireland is also expected to issue its members with detailed answers to their questions in the coming days. This week, the union called for a protocol to be put in place to protect teachers from any form of lobbying or canvassing.
Under the calculated grades systems, teachers will submit both student's calculated grades and a class ranking. This will then be further examined by other teaching staff in the same subject.
A school principal will then review the marks and, once they are satisfied that the process has been followed fairly, this information is then submitted to the Department of Education for 'standardisation.'