In his popular 'Ask Brian' column in this week's Irish Times, Guidance Counsellor Brian Mooney deals with the question of how random selection for CAO courses will change. Indications are that the new grading and points systems should greatly reduce the random nature of offers:
QUESTION: How does the new grading system for Leaving Cert change things, especially for students offered CAO places by random selection? My son is interested in physiotherapy, which often offers places by random selection. I have been told the new grades will improve this situation. How will it do this?
ANSWER: Random selection occurs when there are more students on the same points than there are remaining places available on a course. For example, some students with 723 CAO/HPat points in 2015 secured a medical place at NUI Galway, but up to a dozen students with the same score did not. The random nature of who gets a place is patently unfair, and the reforms introduced are intended to greatly reduce if not eliminate this practice.
The new grading system for the Leaving Cert from 2017 on will not of itself reduce random selection. On its own it would, in fact, make it far more prevalent. But combined with the new points system being introduced at the same time, it should greatly reduce the incidence of random selection.
A student taking the Leaving in 2017 will get one of eight grades, in seven 10 per cent bands from 100 to 30 per cent, with one band for less than 30 per cent. This significantly reduces the 14 bands for the 2016 Leaving Cert. The most significant change is that those students with 30-40 per cent in a higher-level paper will receive the same CAO points as a student with 70-80 per cent at ordinary level.
The key feature of the new common points scale to be introduced in 2017 is that they will not be awarded in bands of 5 per cent. A higher grade one will still get 100 CAO points (or 125 for maths). A H2 will secure 88 points, a H3 77, a H4 66, a H5 56, a H6 46, and a H7 (30-40 per cent ) 37 points. At ordinary level an O1 (a score of 90-100 per cent) will secure the same 56 points as a higher level H5 (50-60 per cent), and so on down the scale.
The cumulative effect of both changes will be that students’ points scores will now be much more varied (there will theoretically be 625 possible CAO points scores, whereas previously there were 125). With so many possible points scores the probability of random selection kicking in should be much reduced.
An interesting feature of the new system is that a student scoring 50-55 per cent will now meet the higher-level entry requirement of many courses that currently require a C3. Points for those securing 30-40 per cent on higher-level papers should also encourage more students to take higher-level subjects.
Source: irishtimes.com 6/10/15
The CareersPortal Team