There has been a marked improvement in Leaving Certificate maths grades this year, with a record number of students sitting the higher-level papers.
As more than 55,000 students collect their results this morning, the surge in grades will come as a welcome boost to the Government and supporters of ongoing maths syllabus reforms.
More than 11,000 — a record 22.1% — of maths students chose the higher- level exam — up from a record low of fewer than 16% a year ago and surpassing the previous high of almost 19% in 1997.
Other figures from the State Examinations Commission show that:
nThe number of students taking Irish at higher level rose to almost 16,000, or 37% of all who sat Irish;
nHigh numbers are still failing science subjects at higher level, including 9% of those taking chemistry, 8.4% in biology, and 7.3% in physics. This rises to 16.6%, 13.5%, and 10.6% respectively at ordinary level;
nThe number of students who sat exams in EU languages outside the main curriculum is up from 1,262 to 1,370, including 707 who took Polish.
The improvement in maths grades will be seen as a justification of colleges awarding 25 extra points for higher-level maths for CAO entry to their courses.
The results are also being partially attributed to questions on Maths Paper 2 based on the much-criticised Project Maths syllabus, designed to make the subject more student-friendly and give a better understanding of mathematical concepts.
The proportion of higher- level Leaving Cert students with honours grades (A, B, or C) has risen from 81% to 83%. Roughly the same number of people got an A as last year, although this year’s students make up a smaller proportion overall than 2011 because there were more higher-level candidates this time.
Business groups have welcomed the maths trends, and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is heartened by the big jump in numbers taking higher-level maths.
“There is no doubt that the 25 bonus points for all those who achieve a D3 or higher in the subject has made a significant impact, as has the continued roll-out of Project Maths,” he said.
Despite speculation that college entry points could rise significantly for many courses because of the maths bonus points, a Department of Education spokesperson said CAO applicants should remember there were fewer Leaving Certificate students among this year’s 76,000 college applicants.
The students getting their results today include 3,226 who took Leaving Certificate Applied, an alternative to the traditional exam system, and 15,827 who followed the Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme.
The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union said those getting their results should have good supports available to them, including school guidance counsellors, parents, exam helplines, and online resources.
“Students should enjoy today and tonight, but do so sensibly. There is a lot more to life than your results and your results night,” said ISSU education officer Brendan Power.
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