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Leaving Cert Grading Bands to be reduced

Posted by SchoolDays Newshound on 22/04/2014. Leaving Cert Grading Bands to be reducedTags: Education And Politics Teachers Parenting

Minister Quinn publishes update on “Transitions” reform

A new model for the grading of Leaving Certificate Examinations with eight bands is likely to replace the existing model which has 14 bands.  The new model is emerging as a result of extensive discussions with practitioners, students and stakeholders, as well as both the State Exams Commission (SEC) and National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D. revealed the proposed new grading scheme as part of a progress report on the reform of the transition of second level students into higher education. The high number of grades that currently exist (A1, A2, B1, B2 etc.) are acknowledged to be contributing to a culture of teaching to the test and rote learning.
Further consideration of the grading bands is on-going with a view to introducing the new grading scheme for students sitting the Leaving Cert in June 2017 (see proposed scale here).

The “Transitions” reform was initiated following a conference in late 2011 that highlighted widespread concerns that the dual use of the Leaving Certificate to assess second level outcomes and to provide the basis for selection and entry into higher education institutions was having negative effects on teaching and learning in secondary schools.

The interim report “Key Directions Update – Easter 2014” also gives an update on two other key areas of reform: a commitment to address any problematic predictability in the Leaving Certificate Examinations and a commitment to offer broader entry routes into third level.

With regard to the latter, universities have committed to ensuring the number of undergraduate courses offered in 2015 is reduced to the same number available in 2011.  Universities and Institutes of Technology are also intensively reviewing their programme portfolios to reduce the complexity of choice and to ensure broader entry programmes into higher education. 

Taskforces are also considering other key issues including the translation of Leaving Certificate Grades into CAO points. 
The SEC and the NCCA have also been examining the extent of problematic predictability in the Leaving Cert exams. Ground-breaking research has been carried out by world-leading experts in assessment from the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment.  The research is expected to be published shortly alongside any proposals from the SEC and the NCCA to address those findings.

Publishing the interim report today, Minister Quinn expressed his satisfaction at the progress being made on the three key areas of reform and the co-operation, engagement and commitment of all the partners. 
Minister Quinn said, “For the first time, we see the concerns around the high stakes nature of the points system and the Leaving Certificate being addressed in a coherent way across both second and third level.”

“I know that all partners have been working intensively in the Transition reform group and within their own sectors to make progress on the three commitments made last year, so that we can together achieve our shared objectives for a better learning experience for students as they move through all stages of their education.”
An implementation plan bringing together all elements of reform and the scope and timescales for implementation will be finalised before the end of 2014.  Phased changes will begin for students entering 5th year in 2015.  Given the sensitive and high stakes nature of the examinations and higher education entry, all change will be carefully managed by the partners.

Source: DOE Press Release


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