Thursday 12 December 2019

Teachers call for lenient marking of 'unfair' maths paper

Katherine Donnelly

SCHOOLS have pleaded with Leaving Cert exam chiefs to go easy when marking students who sat a revamped paper that teachers say was unfair.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) has faced a storm of protest over the Project Maths Higher Level Paper 1.

Project Maths, a new way of teaching the subject which aims to deepen students' understanding, is on trial in 24 schools.

Principals and teachers have bombarded the SEC with complaints about the Higher Level Paper 1, which was taken for the first time this year.

They say the paper bore little or no resemblance to the sample papers issued by the SEC earlier this year.

Tom Lowry of Moate Community School, Co Westmeath, who has taught Maths for 15 years, said even he would have had difficulty with the paper.

Moate Community School principal Kevin Duffy has written to the SEC saying that the school felt "let down and our students badly treated by this experience".

He said correctors should be made fully aware of "the anxieties caused to students, their shock at being faced with such a difficult examination and the panic they must have felt".

Noel McManamly, deputy principal of Colaiste Choilm, Tullamore, Co Offaly, agreed that the questions would "test the capacity and mathematical skill of an experienced teacher in a non-examination setting".


In his letter to the SEC, Mr McManamly, said there was "immeasurable damage to the self-esteem of students" on the day of the exam.

The marking arrangements for the Leaving and Junior Cert papers are finalised only after the exams are over, to allow the examiners take account of any issues that may arise.

An SEC spokesman confirmed that it had received correspondence from schools and that all observations would be reviewed by the chief examiner in the context of preparing the marking scheme.

The commission said the standard principles of fairness, equity and quality assurance, would apply and "in this way the outcomes of the 2011 Project Maths examination will reward students appropriately for their endeavours".

About 2,000 students took Project Maths this year, including about 400 at Higher Level.

Project Maths was introduced to encourage students to apply their knowledge to real-life situations in an exam setting, as opposed to memorising material to get through the test.

The change was regarded as crucial to improving teens' maths standards and ensuring a supply of school-leavers with the skills necessary for college and the modern workplace.

However, schools have warned that after the experience this year , they will have difficulty encouraging students to take Project Maths at higher level.

Irish Independent

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