Record number of high grades for 2020 Leaving Cert under new process

7 Sep 2020

Image: © smolaw11/

The results of the Leaving Cert based on calculated grades have been released, with more students than ever achieving top grades.

Results for this year’s Leaving Cert have been issued to approximately 60,000 Irish students using the calculated grades process introduced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Figures released by the Department of Education showed that calculated grades have resulted in a record number of students securing high grades, with marks across all subjects an average of 4.4pc higher than last year.

For Higher Level papers, the proportion of H1s awarded rose from 5.9pc last year to 8.9pc in 2020, while the proportion of H1 and H2 grades rose from 20.9pc to 25.9pc. An increase of 3.5pc was seen in O1 and O2 grades awarded at Ordinary Level.

Looking at subjects, the number of applied maths students to receive a H1 has risen to almost 30pc from 16.5pc last year. At the other end of the scale, the number of students to receive top grades in English saw an increase of just 1.3pc.

Calculated grades combine estimated marks from teachers with a national standardisation process overseen by the Department of Education to bring grades in line with previous years’ results.

Had a national standardisation not been applied to the results predicted by teachers, grades would have been around 5.3pc higher than last year, on average. An official at the Department of Education told RTÉ that the effects of national moderation on the results was an attempt at “splitting the difference” between previous result patterns and the higher grades estimated by schools.

A key factor in the results published today (7 September) was the decision by the Department of Education to drop plans to use the previous Leaving Cert performances of schools as part of the national standardisation process.

A ‘very different day’

Commenting on the results issued today, Minister for Education Norma Foley, TD, admitted this was a “very different day” to what was anticipated for Leaving Cert students at the start of the school year.

“The creation of the calculated grades system came about to ensure there would be a mechanism to enable the class of 2020 to progress to work or further and higher education on completion of your second-level school experience,” she said.

“This has been a challenging time for students, their families and school communities. However, I do believe what has been created is the fairest possible solution given the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves as we journey together through the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic