Thursday 19 September 2019

Junior Cert results 2018: 47 students achieve top marks

More than 62,000 Junior Cert students are celebrating their results today. Photo: Stock
More than 62,000 Junior Cert students are celebrating their results today. Photo: Stock
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

More than 62,000 Junior Cert students are celebrating their results today, although many middle-ground students will be disappointed there is no repeat of the bumper share-out of "honours" grades that marked the introduction of the new-style English written exam last year.

At English higher level, there was a slight increase in the proportion of candidates achieving a "distinction" - the equivalent of a traditional A - while the number awarded a "higher merit" (75-90pc) is broadly similar to last year.

But there has been a big fall in the "merit" category, which covers the 55pc-75pc marks range, with a corresponding increase in the numbers in the new "achieved" grade, which runs from 40pc-55pc. In the traditional ABC system, 55pc is the starting point for a C grade.

After a good year for English candidates in 2017, the inaugural year of the new assessment system, when almost 82pc scored 55pc or above, the pattern is back in line with the traditional "bell curve" distribution of grades in the subject, with 75-76pc at 55pc or above. In the new regime, students also do in-school assessments.

Junior Cycle reforms mean candidates can no longer take 12 subjects and, this year, there are 47 students who achieved 11 As for all subjects including a "distinction" in English and the common level Civic Social and Personal Education (CSPE).

In line with high birth rates since the late 1990s, the overall numbers sitting the exam increased by 1.5pc on last year, to 62,562. The proportion of 'return to education' candidates dropped slightly to 0.9pc.

A marked trend in recent years of increasing numbers of students taking subjects at higher level appears to be levelling off, and in some subjects the proportion taking the "honours" paper, including in science, dipped.

There is a particular focus on encouraging students to take higher level maths, in particular, and 57pc of maths candidates did so this year, close to the target of 60pc set for Junior Cycle for 2020. That is up from 45pc in 2010 and 48pc in 2012, no doubt spurred by the introduction of 25 CAO bonus points for a minimum 40pc in higher level maths at Leaving Cert. English is the first Junior Cycle subject to undergo reform. In 2019, students will also sit new-style exams in business studies and science,

Next year is the last for an exam in CSPE. The rollout of revised subjects is continuing.

Congratulating students receiving results today, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals director Clive Byrne said new senior cycle pupils were beginning their Leaving Cert study at an exciting time, with the education system "undergoing positive and much-needed reform".

Mr Byrne said the new Leaving Cert grading scheme, introduced in 2017, had helped ease the points race and encouraged more to take up higher level papers and "the introduction of subjects like computer science and politics and society, are making our education system more accessible and internationally competitive".

Although students get results in school today, candidates can access results online from 4pm, at

Junior Cert candidates may appeal a grade, or grades, and any such applications must be made through their school and be with the State Examinations Commission no later than Friday, October 12.

Irish Independent

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