Written answers

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Department of Education and Skills

State Examinations

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

248. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of plans to reform the leaving certificate exams; her engagement with the State Examinations Commission in respect of same; and if she envisages a blended and or option for continued assessment to become a permanent choice for students. [35505/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

My Department is acutely aware of the disruption caused to all students because of school closures arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. From 11 January 2021, all students engaged in a programme of remote learning with their schools.

Students who have just completed fifth year and who are due to take Leaving Certificate examinations in 2022 have experienced a degree of disruption to their learning. In these circumstances, it was considered that some level of adjustment to the normal Leaving Certificate assessment arrangements should be made for them that would be proportionate to their experience and be educationally appropriate. Given where these students were at in their studies at the time of each school lockdown period, the impact of the loss of tuition time is less than that experienced by those students who sat the Leaving Certificate this year.

Yesterday, following a meeting of the Advisory Group on Planning for State Examinations, I announced that the level of adjustment to the assessment arrangements for the 2022 Leaving Certificate Examination cohort would be broadly the same as that applied by the Assessment Arrangements For Leaving Certificate Examinations 2021,as set in December 2020. There arrangements were announced before the second period of school closures.

I also announced yesterday that the State Examinations Commission (SEC) will run an alternative set of Leaving Certificate Examinations in 2022, shortly following the main set of examinations. The SEC will set out the eligibility conditions for these examinations, which will be limited to certain students who are unable to sit the main set of examinations due to close family bereavement, COVID-19 illness during those examinations, and certain other categories of serious illness, to be clearly and strictly delineated. The SEC will issue further details regarding these examinations, with all arrangements guided by prevailing public health advice. There will also be further engagement with stakeholders in this matter.

By way of ongoing reform across Senior Cycle, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) recently submitted the Senior Cycle Review: Advisory Report to my Department and I for consideration. The Advisory Report, which will be published in the coming months, looks at priority areas, longer-term goals and a proposed timeline on the pace and scale of developments in senior cycle. It sets out a shared vision articulated as the basis, which will guide further work on specific areas for developments, such as, senior cycle programmes and pathways, curriculum specifications and assessment. This further work will be carried out on a phased basis over the next few years with further consultation as appropriate.

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

249. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if her attention has been drawn to instances in which persons due to receive results from the leaving certificate in 2021 may be in a position that they cannot access third-level education abroad as a result of the due date on which results will issue; and if she has and or will give due consideration to releasing the results in a more timely manner in 2021. [35509/21]

Photo of Norma FoleyNorma Foley (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On 17 February I confirmed that Leaving Certificate 2021 examinations would proceed, guided by public health advice, and that students would also have the alternative option of applying for grades accredited by the State Examinations Commission (SEC), to be known as SEC-Accredited Grades. This decision was taken by government to ensure for every candidate in 2021, a method to assess their learning and attainment at the end of their post-primary education, and to progress to higher and further education, and the world of work.

The written examinations began on 9 June and ran until 17 June in the case of Leaving Certificate Applied and 29 June in the case of Leaving Certificate (established).

Candidates were provided with the choice of sitting the examinations, opting to receive Accredited Grades or both on a subject by subject basis. This dual process, believed to be unique in the world, was put in place following consultation with stakeholders in response to the disrupted learning experienced by the class of 2021 during the periods of school closures in 2020 and 2021.

In any subject where a candidate sits the examination and opts to receive an Accredited Grade, they will be credited with the better of the two results.

The results this year are expected to issue on Friday 3 September through the Candidate Self Service Portal. The results issue date this year must take account of both the examinations marking process and the Accredited Grades process operating in parallel and being brought together at the end to issue to candidates. To ensure the accuracy and the integrity of the results being provided to candidates, sufficient time must be allowed not only in the parallel operation of both of these complex processes but also in the integration of the results to ensure that candidates are provided with a set of examinations results that comprises, based on their individual options on a subject by subject basis, examination results, Accredited Grades or the better of the two.

A range of checking and robust quality assurance procedures apply to the resulting and grading processes for the examination results and Accredited Grades focussed on maintaining data integrity and on identifying and reconciling candidate information. Given the robust quality assurance checks associated with the resulting process and in the integration of both the Accredited Grades and written examinations, It is of vital importance that the processes are given sufficient time to execute to the highest standards.

Candidates’ results will be transferred to the CAO at the earliest opportunity to facilitate the generation of offers to CAO applicants. The CAO have announced that Round 1 offers will be made on 7 September.

For those Leaving Certificate candidates who have applied to pursue their higher education in UK Universities, the UCAS deadline for acceptance of conditional offers is 8 September 2021.

In 2020, along with the UK, countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland and Hungary showed flexibility in working with the Department to accommodate Irish students, when results issued on 7 September 2020.

The Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has already been engaged with these countries, and this engagement continues. Both Departments will continue their work to ensure that the same flexibility will be extended to the 2021 Leaving Certificate candidates. I have also written to my ministerial colleagues in other jurisdictions seeking their support in this matter.

It is important that candidates who have applied for places in universities and colleges outside of Ireland should engage with the institutions to which they have applied as early as possible to notify them of the results date and to confirm their position.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.