Leaving Certificate results highest on record

Students have expressed concern that CAO points will rise alongside the higher results

Around 60,000 Leaving Certificate students have received their calculated grades this morning, with results higher overall than any year on record.

Across all Higher Level papers, the proportion of H1 grades awarded across all subjects is up by 3% compared to last year, from 5.9% to 8.9%.

Similarly, Ordinary Level results increased 3.5%.

The results were made available online to students at 9am this morning following the cancellation of the traditional Leaving Certificate examinations in May as Covid-19 restrictions meant large scale exams could not take place.

This year’s calculated grade system is a first in the 100 years of the Leaving Certificate, and the process has produced grades that are on average 4.4% higher than grades last year, according to the figures published by the Department of Education.

The proportion of H1 and H2 grades awarded is up by 5%, from 20.9% to 25.9%, now representing a fourth of all higher level grades.

Almost 30% of higher level applied maths students have received a H1, and 42% of Latin students will receive a H1.

Increase across subjects varies, with the lowest increase shown in higher level English at 1.3%, and the highest increase shown in higher level art at 5.3%.

The gender gap between results has also widened, with female students performing better than male students in their results. Although the calculated grades process did not contain any mechanism to maintain this difference, female students have outperformed male students in Leaving Certificate results in line with trends from previous years.

Last week, the government approved the removal of schools’ previous Leaving Certificate performance from the standardization model. 

The Department of Education has said that if schools’ historic performance had been used in the standardization model, higher level grades would have been decreased by 60%, with 25% of ordinary level grades also being reduced. 

After the dropping of this, just under 17% of school provided grades  were reduced.

Minister of Education Norma Foley congratulated students and said they have “met every challenge with courage, determination and resilience” throughout the calculated grades process during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Previously, concerns were raised that students from disadvantaged backgrounds could affect the calculated grades process, furthering disadvantages to students. 

However, the Department of Education said the data shows that this has not occurred. 

Despite this, concerns over the results remain. Students who sat the Leaving Certificate last year and deferred their college places for one year are worried that the increase in high level grades will increase CAO points for high demand courses, meaning students who potentially had the results for their desired course last year may lose out on their position this year.

Students have also expressed concern that with higher grades on average, CAO points will inevitably rise alongside the higher results. 

First round of CAO offers will be released on Friday September 11 at 2pm, for acceptance by September 16. Second round offers will be released on September 23, for acceptance by September 26.

Last week, the government announced an additional 1250 higher education places will be offered on certain high-demand courses for the upcoming academic year, 2020/2021.

In this plan, oversubscribed courses including nursing, law and medicine could see an increase of 5%.

In Trinity, incoming first year students are to start lectures on October 5, with Freshers’ Week beginning on September 28. Teaching for returning students resumes alongside Freshers’ Week.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.