Monday 23 April 2018

50,000 pupils get passport on way to second-level

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

PRIMARY pupils making the move to second level will have their own 'education passport' from now on.

It is being introduced for more than 50,000 primary pupils making the transition to second level in September.

The new 'passport' will take the form of a report card -- which will also be given to parents -- and will include results of standardised tests in reading and maths that pupils do in sixth class.

The aim is to ensure continuity for students and also alert second-level schools if any child will need additional support.

It is the first structured, national system for the transfer of information about a child's progress at primary level to the new school.

It replaces more informal arrangements that could have resulted in second-level schools receiving only verbal reports about some children, or, in some cases, no information at all.

The absence of relevant information about a child's ability and achievement has been blamed for stalling their progress in that important first year in post-primary.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn launched the 'passport' yesterday, as a key element in the drive to raise literacy and numeracy levels.

As part of the Government's literacy and numeracy strategy announced last year, primary pupils now do three standardised tests -- in second, fourth and sixth classes. They used to do two.

Standard

These tests are used to judge both the performance of pupils and schools against a national standard and to set targets for improvement, where necessary.

Crucially, second-level schools will not receive the "report card" information about any pupil until after the child has accepted a place in that school.

Mr Quinn said this was to ensure that it could not be used "to cherry-pick the best performing pupils or to exclude those who may have learning difficulties."

As a result of this initiative, each post-primary principal is now responsible for informing the principal of each primary school of the names of students for whom enrolment has been confirmed.

It remains to be seen whether the new "passport" will replace so-called "entrance" tests for second-level schools, which, although not universal, are commonplace.

Such tests cannot be used to determine whether a child gains entry to a school, but may decide into which class or stream a child will be placed for certain subjects, or show whether a pupil needs learning support.

The need for greater flow of information between primary and post-primary schools was highlighted in an ESRI report for the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

The NCCA has developed report card templates for use by schools.

Irish Independent

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