Tuesday 16 January 2018

All colleges expected to give maths extra marks

John Walshe Education Editor

Four universities have backed the idea of bonus points for maths and the other three are also expected to do so, but with misgivings.

The initial reaction -- even if lukewarm -- is welcome news for Education Minister Mary Coughlan, who is pushing the maths agenda.

TCD vice-provost and chief academic officer Professor Patrick Prendergast said the university council favoured a 'weighting' of 40pc to recognise the extra work required by students taking higher level maths.

This would mean a student who earned maximum points for higher level maths would get an extra 40 for admission purposes for any course -- in other words, 140 points instead of 100.

The council yesterday decided it would be preferable if all the universities agreed the same 'weighting' but that Trinity would not agree to anything higher than 50 points extra.

Dublin City University president Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski told the Irish Independent that DCU would implement bonus points.

And University of Limerick vice-president (academic) and registrar Professor Paul McCutcheon said it would continue to support the plan as it has had a bonus point system in place for some years.

Although no formal decision has yet been taken by the National University of Ireland Galway, college president Professor Jim Browne said: "Personally, I am not in favour of it, but if others want it, we will go ahead.

"The danger is that if we say yes, it will be seen as a solution when it is not. What we need is more Project Maths and more qualified maths teachers."

Meanwhile, a working group has been set up by UCD -- but it won't report with a recommendation until September and neither NUI Maynooth nor UCC have yet indicated their position.

UCD's delay in making a decision means students going into fifth year in September will not know for certain whether bonus points will be applied from 2012, the expected start date for their reintroduction.

Extra marks for higher level maths were previously in use until 1992.


Bonus points have been supported by the Task Force on Innovation, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and the employers' body, IBEC, which said they would have an immediate impact on the take-up of maths at the higher level.

IBEC education policy head Tony Donohue described bonus points as an important interim measure until Project Maths -- the new approach on trial in 24 schools this year -- is taken by all students.

The Project Maths implementation support group did not reach any consensus on the issue.

Bonus points could also incentivise the one-fifth of students who move from higher-level maths to ordinary level between spring and June of the exam year.

Irish Independent

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