Students will be allowed to create apps for Leaving computer science
Almost one-third of the marks for the proposed Leaving Cert subject of computer science will reward students for their skill in creating an app, website or anything else created by a human using a computer.
Computer science is set to be added to the list of choices for fifth years, on a phased basis, from September 2018, with the first State exams in the subject in 2020.
Students will receive 30pc of the marks in the final exams for a computing project done in school, and the other 70pc will reflect performance in the traditional June assessment.
However, apart from the timing, there will be nothing traditional about the two-and-a-half hour end-of-course exam.
For the first time in the State exams, candidates taking computer science will sit a computer-based test, rather than a written paper or a combination of written and aural.
Draft proposals for the syllabus and assessment in the subject have been published by the Government advisory body, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).
The NCCA is inviting views, both from specialists and the general public, in a consultation process running from now until September, before the final specification is agreed.
Employer bodies have long been calling for the introduction of computer science at Leaving Cert level, to give school-leavers a foundation in what is an essential skill for the modern world.
The syllabus aims to foster creativity and problem solving and develop in students an appreciation of the diverse role of computing technology in society and the environment in which they live.
Among the objectives is to teach students how to read, write, test and modify computer programs and how computers work. Students will also be helped to develop an appreciation of the ethical and social implications of computing technology and how to evaluate the accuracy and bias of online information sources.
They will put computer science to practice in a series of five, six-week projects across the two years of senior cycle, where they will work in groups to produce computational artefacts that are personally relevant to them, their community or society. Computational artefacts include programs, digital animations, robotics and apps.
The creation of a computational artefact will form part of the final assessment, for 30pc of the marks, and students will also be required to report on the work and the process involved, including a bibliography acknowledging the source or author of any information or evidence take from someone else's work, as happens at third-level.
The State Examinations Commission will set and grade the project as it does with other Leaving Cert coursework assessments.