School bosses want exams group to keep marking role
Published 26/03/2014 | 02:30
Second-level school managers say that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) should continue to have a role monitoring student results in the new Junior Cert.
They suggest that the exam chiefs check samples of student work already marked by their own teachers to ensure that standards are maintained.
While they haven't put a precise figure on it, their idea would involve cross-checking only a limited number of exam papers, perhaps about one in 20.
It would amount to a compromise between the existing system of state exams and the plan for teachers to take on the work of assessing their students.
Changes at Junior Cycle, due to be phased in for first years from September, will see an end to a state certificate based on exams done by students after three years in second level.
The replacement of the Junior Cert with a new school award, called the JCSA, is at the root of a major dispute between Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and the two second-level teacher unions.
Under the proposed changes, the SEC would continue to set the exams and provide guidelines on how they should be marked but it would be up to the teachers to award grades.
The unions are opposed to teachers assessing their own students and warn that it will put them under pressure from parents to deliver good grades, lead to wild variations in results and undermine standards.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) have conducted ballots of members and the results will be known later today.
They asked members to vote on a range of actions involving non-co-operation with activities, such as training, related to the reform. The TUI has also asked members to vote on the possibility of strike action.
Now it has emerged that school managers have proposed that the SEC continue to have a limited role by cross-checking grades awarded by teachers in a small sample of student work.
School management bodies put forward the idea in ongoing talks about the implementation of the reforms.
The suggestion remains under discussion in the talks, which involve the Department of Education, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA), teacher unions, management bodies, school leaders and parents.
Ciaran Flynn, general secretary of the Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS), one of the management bodies involved, said school-based assessment with external monitoring by the SEC would be their preferred option.
Mr Flynn said it was a balancing act between "letting schools get on with it and having some kind of external, objective checks and balances system".
Mr Flynn was not specific on what proportion of exam papers should be cross-checked by the SEC, but he indicated that it could be of the order of 3-5pc.