Thursday 15 November 2018

Leaving Cert bonus points proposed in sweeping reforms

Stock photo
Stock photo
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Sweeping changes to the Leaving Cert, including bonus points for more subjects and a system of continuous assessment of students, are proposed in a report from the Oireachtas Education Committee.

The all-party committee says students who do more than one foreign language should get extra points, and there should also be a points reward for taking certain subjects at higher level.

In a move to reduce reliance on a single set of written exams, the committee says it is "hugely supportive of exploring the idea of continuous assessment forming a larger part of the Leaving Certificate".

The report follows committee hearings into possible avenues for reform of the Leaving Cert, and coincides with a National Council for Curriculum and Assessment review of changes needed to the senior cycle.

Representatives of teacher unions, employers, second-level students, parents, academics, the State Examinations Commission and the Department of Education were among those who gave evidence to the committee.

With junior cycle reforms now being embedded, committee chair Fianna Fáil TD Fiona O'Loughlin said members were of the view that "there is much to be done in this regard concerning the Leaving Certificate".

The report does not suggest that teachers grade their own students in in-school assessments - a controversial issue that held up junior cycle reform for years. Instead, it proposes that "concerns regarding the impartiality of teachers in grading continuous assessment assignments are addressed by recruiting graduates in the relevant fields to undertake the role".

It says such graduates, as well as aspiring teachers, could be trained for the task.

However, it remains to be seen whether there would be wider support for handing over such high-stakes work to inexperienced hands.

It is in the context of the importance of foreign languages in a changing, global economy that the committee backs suggestions made to it for extra CAO points for students who take more than one foreign language.

It also calls for consideration to be given to awarding extra points for certain, unspecified, higher-level subjects, as in maths, in recognition of additional commitment.

Other recommendations in the report include ensuring that teachers are given sufficient time and resources to adapt to changes in the curriculum.

It also calls for a module to allow students be graded in a life-skill of their choice, or in an extra-curricular activity.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News