Call for investment in Leaving Cert

Significant investment in maintaining standards will be vital if more assessment methods are used for the Leaving Certificate, TDs and senators have heard.

Lewis Purser, Irish Universities Association director of academic affairs, told the Oireachtas Education Committee that good practice of teachers regularly assessing their students is often sacrificed by the preparation required for the Leaving Certificate’s high-stakes format.

However, he said, a rigorous form of moderation would need to be invested in by the Department of Education and State Examinations Commission to avoid a serious risk around validity, consistency, and reliability of an exam system.

The committee met education stakeholders to discuss the prospect of using wider ranges of assessment. The two-year senior cycle is the subject of a review recently commenced by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment.

The two second-level teacher unions said they do not oppose more assessment components such as projects and practical and oral exams already used in more than half of the Leaving Certificate subjects. However, they insisted they must still be marked by external assessors rather than students’ own teachers, with the Teachers’ Union of Ireland warning of the potential for extra stress due to more assessments.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland assistant general secretary Moira Leydon said least progress on 2011 proposals to ease pressure on Leaving Certificate students has been made in the third-level sector. It was recommended to significantly reduce the number of courses students must choose from when applying for college places.

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