Friday 18 August 2017

Some teachers sending wrong information to State examiners

Some teachers cause headaches for State examiners by sending the wrong information about what assessments are to be carried out on their students.
Some teachers cause headaches for State examiners by sending the wrong information about what assessments are to be carried out on their students.

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

Some teachers cause headaches for State examiners by sending the wrong information about what assessments are to be carried out on their students.

The problem is highlighted in a report from the State Examinations Commission (SEC) about the alternative, Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) exam.

The LCA is a stand-alone, two-year modular course with a strong vocational focus, which is taken by about 3,000 students every year.

About one-third of marks are awarded for completion of student tasks, including two vocational specialisms in areas such as office administration, childcare and agriculture.

External examiners come to the school to assess students in the vocational task but, according to the Chief Examiners' Report on last year's exam, in some cases, schools enter candidates for the incorrect specialism.

According to the report, this is frequently not noticed and rectified when the SEC returns candidate information to the schools for checking, and it hampers the assessment work.

"Examiners from the wrong specialism are appointed to carry out the task assessment in the schools and the matter only comes to light when they are making appointments to visit schools", it states.

The report states that rectifying the problem at that stage is very problematic, as it disrupts appointments, causes inconvenience to other schools and often leads to late assessments for the students concerned, as it urges schools to be more diligent in checking the documentation

The grading scheme for LCA candidates is "pass", "merit" or "distinction" and about one-third of marks are reserved for attendance at certain modules and completion of key assignments, which is verified by the school, while the balance of marks is for written exams.

In a general comment, the Chief Examiner says that in the vast majority of schools and centres, the LCA programme and all of its assessment elements are clearly being implemented with care and diligence by teachers and school authorities.

But among its other findings are that some teachers are giving "inappropriate" levels of guidance to students, which became apparent by a "high level of uniformity of task within a class group, lack of understanding of the aims and purpose of the task and, in particular, inconsistency between the task report and candidate knowledge and understanding".

Examiners also found evidence that some candidates continued to work on tasks after the published deadlines.

"In order to encourage better planning on the part of candidates and to ensure equitable treatment of all candidates, it is important that schools ensure that all notified deadlines are adhered to and that students are not permitted to continue to work on their reports after the specified dates"

Another recommendation is for schools to ensure that the LCA co-ordinator role is filled by a person with the necessary experience and understanding to carry it out effectively.

The report also urges teachers with experience of the LCA programme make themselves available as examiners.

The Chief Examiner makes this recommendation, in part because the experience would help them "to develop a clarity and focus in relation to the aims of the various elements of the programme",

Teachers 'spend too much time form-filling'

Pupils are losing out because of the growing amount of paperwork that teachers have to do, a union has warned.

An increasing burden of administrative duties is deflecting from core teaching and learning, according to Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) general secretary John MacGabhann.

Among the findings of a TUI survey was that about nine-in-10 teachers say that administrative duties had increased over the last five years.

Mr MacGabhann cited "excessive form-filling and box ticking" and said the work of teachers had become excessively bureaucratic - and at a time when school resources have been cut. He said the capacity of teachers and schools to deal with new, additional work was among the factors for teachers voting for industrial action against the roll-out of the proposed new Junior Cycle.

"Quite simply, teachers can give no more", said Mr MacGabhann.

The extra work arises from education legislation and other initiatives, such as school self-evaluation reviews.

"If the country aspires to providing a world class education system, teachers must be relieved of the intolerable and frequently unnecessary administrative burden that has accumulated over recent years", he said.

Irish Independent

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