'Higher-level exam should not carry fear of failure tag'
Leaving Certificate students need to be encouraged to try higher-level papers without running the risk of being "labelled with the awful moralising tag of failure".
That's according to the head of the task group on changes to the exam-grading structure and CAO points system.
Professor Philip Nolan, president of Maynooth University, was responding to some negative reaction to changes for the 2017 State exams.
Prof Nolan said the reforms were designed to encourage all students to achieve to the best of their ability and people needed to recognise that they were based on research evidence.
The changes include reducing the current 14 ABC grading bands to eight and a new scale for converting grades into CAO points. The new measures will also see students being rewarded for achievement of between 30-39pc on a higher-level paper.
Prof Nolan said the evidence showed that an E grade at higher level under the current system represented the same level of achievement as a grade C at ordinary level.
"Why is one ranked as a good result and the other failure?" he said at the annual conference of the Joint Managerial Body, representing management bodies in more than half of second-level schools.
"Shouldn't we be encouraging students to take risks rather than punishing them if they come up short?
"In terms of developing our society and our citizens, what sort of a signal are we giving people at such a delicate and formative stage of their lives if we feel the need to insist on categorising them as failures rather than recognising their achievements?"