Rejig will make it easier to get A in Art
In what is probably the best news Leaving Certificate students have heard in years, examiners are going to make it easier for candidates to get an A.
Art is taken by about 10,000 students every year and it is the toughest subject in which to score top grades, with less than 1pc of higher level candidates achieving an A1 in 2014, compared with over 5pc in Irish and over 9pc in chemistry.
It has been the source of much frustration among students and teachers but curriculum and exam chiefs are now heeding their concerns.
The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and the State Examinations Commission (SEC) are finalising arrangements that will see the end of two of the three practical exams that art candidates sit.
The new system will allow students to prepare artefacts in the classroom, over a six-week period, and send the finished product to the SEC for grading.
The changes, to be introduced for students starting fifth year in September 2016, will affect the imaginative composition/still life and the craft/design components, which, together, account for half the overall marks in the subject.
Measures will be put in place to ensure authenticity of candidates' work in line with the procedures that apply for such coursework in other subjects.
Currently, depending on the options they take, students spend either five or seven and a half nerve-wracking hours doing the two practicals, under an exam superintendent.
But, if something goes wrong, it can cost the student a good grade. "Things happen all the time; imagine doing a clay piece and it explodes in the kiln," said one source.
There will be no change for the third practical, life sketching, and candidates will also continue to do a written exam.
The Department of Education said the "changes are intended to improve the learning experience of students and reward skills that are now recognised as valuable in art education. Candidates will be enabled to work in a more authentic fashion".
According to a source, that translates into making it easier for students to score an A.
Apart from giving students more time to execute their work, there will be fewer examiners involved in assessing individual students. "Because there are so many different inputs and marked by so many different people, it can be difficult to get an A," the source said.