Monday 23 October 2017

One Leaving Cert student secures incredible nine A1 grades

Thirteen students receive eight A1 grades

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke
Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan. Photo: Tom Burke

One student has secured an incredible nine A1 grades in the Leaving Certificate this year, and 13 students have received eight A1 grades.

The student is a male pupil at a fee-paying school in Dublin.

Some 57,000 leaving certificate students are to receive their Leaving Cert results today.

Record numbers of Leaving Certificate candidates who pushed themselves to take ‘honours’ maths have been rewarded in today’s results.

An unprecedented 14,326 students sat the higher-level exam, almost double the number who took it before the 25-point incentive for a minimum grade D was rolled out in 2012.

And the gamble paid off for the 96pc of those candidates who achieved at least a D grade.

Now US multinationals say lessons must be learned from the success of the maths bonus – and they want to see a points incentive extended to science subjects.

The American Chamber, which represents major US employers in Ireland, has picked up on a proposal from universities for an extension of bonus points, as well as greater points weighting for higher-level grades.

As reported exclusively in the Irish Independent, universities want to reward students who make the effort to study at higher level and who are taking subjects that are relevant to future study paths.

It is part of a wider move to reform the points system, encompassing how Leaving Cert papers are set and marked, the conversion of grades to points and simpler college entry routes.

The ongoing success of the maths bonus was only one cause of celebration, as almost 57,000 students received their results.

One student achieved nine A1s, followed by another 12 who are celebrating eight A1s, and 37 with seven A1s.

But, continuing high failure rates in ordinary-level maths and chemistry and physics at both levels, takes some of the gloss off the higher-level maths performance.

Failure to achieve a minimum grade D in maths excludes students from the overwhelming majority of third-level courses.

Alongside the 9pc who failed at ordinary level - over 8,200 students - almost 5pc did not achieve a minimum D at higher level, leaving them with no CAO points in the subject at all

Education Minister Jan O'Sullivan led the congratulations to the 56,990 candidates in the class of 2014.

The minister welcomed the continuing increase in higher- level maths uptake - up from 16pc of maths candidates in 2011, to 27pc this year.

She said today was a culmination of much hard work and sacrifice and students now had an opportunity to choose which path they wanted to take, advising that there were a wide range of opportunities.

Ms O'Sullivan referred to the moves afoot to reform the "points system", particularly the use of broader entry routes to third-level, with a view to eliminating confusion in the college entry process.

She said the focus was on reducing the stress on students making the transition from second-level and she looked forward to receiving a report by the end of this year.

Initially, fears were expressed that the maths bonus would create distortions but the experience has been that the students benefiting are those applying for CAO courses with strong associations with maths.

The American Chamber was the leading advocate for the maths bonus as a way of ensuring that more school-leavers were equipped with the thinking skills required for study and jobs in the 
modern era.

Chamber chief executive Mark Redmond said: "We should now seek additional ways to encourage students to choose subjects that will support their 
future careers".

He welcomed proposals from the universities, to award extra points for subjects based on their relevance to third-level courses and expand the range of grades for which points are awarded - a reference to the plan to give CAO points for scores of between 30pc-39pc on higher-level papers.

Mr Redmond said industry looked to the results as an 
indicator of the quality of talent that was being produced by the education system and it was encouraging to see more students studying the vital 
science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) 
subjects, particularly at a higher level.

But he expressed concern about the high failure rates in the science subjects - 8pc in higher-level physics and 9pc in higher-level chemistry - "key skills for many modern foreign direct investment companies".

He called for the maths bonus "to be adapted and applied to support students studying in the sciences also".

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, also welcomed the continuing increase in the uptake of higher-level maths. Ibec Head of Education Policy Tony Donohoe said increased ability in maths was required by a huge range of businesses, while the subject also opened the possibility for larger numbers of students to take science and technology courses.

"There are a lot of career opportunities in key technology related areas, and this is likely to continue as the economy recovers," he said.

National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) director Clive Byrne noted the increase in students taking science while the numbers sitting the business exam continued to decline slightly.

Irish Independent

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