Leaving Cert students who sit higher level papers in fifth year will still be able to change to ordinary level for their final mark.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, the Education Minister Norma Foley said the newly-announced Leaving Cert reforms will allow students to change levels in Sixth Year even after sitting Paper One in Fifth Year.
She said she has ‘no fears’ about continuous assessment leading to grade inflation, noting that all continuous assessment will be set and moderated by the State Exams Commission (SEC).
Minister Foley also praised teachers for the “enormous flexibility and agility” they have shown through the pandemic and insisted the new reforms will be a “joint project” between educators and the department.
One of the first changes to the senior cycle will see students sitting Paper One of their English and Gaeilge exams at the end of Fifth Year.
Minister Foley told Ciara they will still be able to change levels before sitting Paper Two in sixth year.
“It’s interesting to note that, in the first instance, believe it or not, fewer and fewer students are actually doing that now, changing between levels, so just to acknowledge that,” she said.
“Where it does happen, the SEC do have the ability to change the marking scheme should there be a change.
“The SEC do have that capacity and they at present they will be working through all of that. Absolutely we will be taking that into consideration because I do appreciate it can happen, but we can moderate for that.”
The hybrid model Leaving Certs introduced during the pandemic led to major grade inflation, with universities warning that the increase in top marks had left the State exam facing a “credibility issue”.
One of the chief reforms announced yesterday was the phased move to 40% continuous assessment for all subjects.
Minister Foley said she has no fears the move will lead to ongoing grade inflation.
“That will not be the case,” she said. “The SEC, whom I want to say are held in extremely high regard in this country, they will be the moderators.
“They will moderate the exams and the certification will actually come from the SEC so I don’t have any fears in that respect.
“This will be worked out in partnership with the NCCA, the SEC and indeed the teaching staff going forward.”
"Very clear timeline"
Minister Foley said the reform plan includes “a very clear timeline” and insisted negotiations with teachers will not be allowed to delay the changes.
“I think it’s important to say teachers have shown enormous flexibility and agility over the last few years,” she said.
“I have set out a very clear timeline here as to how we are going to achieve this. In 2023, we will see changes for Fifth Year, in September of 2022, we will see students taking the Leaving Cert applied programme having the opportunity to take subjects form the established Leaving Cert so I am very, very conscious this needs to be time-bound.”
She said teachers will have an input to the reform through the “network schools” programme which will see changes tested in some schools before being rolled out across the country.
“Teachers will have an opportunity to teach, to trial, to evaluate and to adjust so that we ultimately succeed,” she said. “So, it will be a joint project here.”
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