Written answers

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Terence FlanaganTerence Flanagan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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380. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if she will provide an update regarding the proposal to reform the junior certificate system; the benefits of the proposed new system and particularly the way it will benefit students; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [46828/14]

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
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Since my appointment as Minister, I have consulted widely with all education partners on the proposed reform of the Junior Cycle, including with representatives of parents. I have listened to their concerns and reflected on how I could present the necessary reforms to address their concerns and those of other partners.

On November 10th I presented my revised proposal to the Teacher Unions. It includes a combination of 60% of marks to be allocated to a final exam at the end of third year which will be set and marked by the SEC, alongside 40% of marks to be allocated for school based work such as portfolios and projects to be assessed by teachers which will be accompanied by the SEC monitoring 10-15% of these marks.

What is assessed is valued; school based assessment promotes a learning culture in schools. It recognises and rewards skills which cannot readily be assessed through externally assessed written final examinations.

It is essential that students are marked by their own teachers to promote better student learning and improved student outcomes. School based assessment empowers teachers to support the unique talents and skills of the students in their classrooms. It allows for a much more rounded picture of student achievement to emerge.

This combined approach with its external checks and balances will lead to state certification on completion of junior cycle.It will have integrity and validity and teachers will be supported in this change.

This reform is not about protecting systems, it is about improving standards. The positive aspects of the existing junior certificate will be maintained and improved by my proposal.


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