Saturday 25 November 2017

Junior Cert pupils facing 10pc cut in English mark

Stock photo: Depositphotos
Stock photo: Depositphotos
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

More than half of this year's Junior Cert class are now in imminent danger of losing 10pc of marks in English - because of the ongoing row involving the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI).

At least 30,000 of the 60,000 third-year pupils stand to lose out if they don't complete new school-based assessments, introduced as part of junior cycle reform, before early December.

The ASTI is continuing its non-co-operation with the new forms of student assessment, as well as threatening industrial action on a number of fronts, following its rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

In ballots over the next two weeks, ASTI members are being asked to vote for action over pay equality for new teachers, and withdrawing from supervisions and substitution duties, both of which could close schools by early November.

ASTI members - young teachers in particular - are paying a heavy price for the union's ongoing battle with Government. It is costing them phased pay restoration measures, which would beworth up to €6,000 a year.

A school leader said the threat to assessment and student grades was a "worrying development" and "surely a concern for students in affected schools"

Michael Moriarty, general secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), said if the ASTI position is maintained "in more than half of the second-level schools, thousands of students will lose 10pc of their marks for English".

In an address to the ETBI annual conference, Mr Moriarty pointed out that instead of being marked out of 100pc in the subject, these students would be marked out of 90pc.

The changes have seen the roll-out of two classroom-based assessments (CBA), one an oral communications task, which was supposed to have been conducted last May, before the students finished second year.

Because of the ASTI position, schools were given a second chance to conduct it this month - with a September 30 deadline - but the union ban on this work is still in place.

The second CBA involves a collection of student writings, gathered over a period of up to two years, which have to be submitted by December 2. In the following week, students have to do a written assessment task linked to their writings.


Over two class periods, between December 5-9, they will be asked to reflect on what they have learned in the process. It is for this that 10pc of the English marks are at stake.

"Students who do not have a second CBA will miss out on 10pc of their marks, as the assessment task is linked directly to it," said Mr Moriarty.

The schools most affected by the ASTI dispute are in the voluntary secondary sector - generally those traditionally under the control of the religious.

The ASTI also has many members in community and comprehensive schools - where, depending on the union of which the teacher is a member, some classes are doing the CBAs and others are not.

The other second-level teachers' union, the TUI, is co-operating with the changes.

Irish Independent

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