Literacy level poses a problem on Project Maths paper

Junior Certificate students were the first at this level, apart from those in 24 pilot schools, to be tested on Project Maths yesterday morning.

But while the higher- level paper drew few complaints, the ordinary level exam was deemed too hard by one commentator, although not for its maths content.

Elaine Devlin maths spokesperson, Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), said the level of literacy required was ridiculous. She said the amount of data in a table on the census would have boggled many.

She said significant numbers of students do not like or understand maths, and a huge amount of work is needed by teachers to get them interested.

However, Bríd Griffin, Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) spokesperson, said there was a lot of reading required but this was always going to be a focus in Project Maths exams and the maths elements in the paper were fine. “As time goes on, it will become the norm and students will be prepared for it,” she said.

Ms Devlin thought the higher-level exam a lot less wordy. She noted it was probably the first time students were not asked to prove a theorem.

Ms Griffin thought the paper contained nothing unexpected. Her main criticism was of the last part of a question on ratio, area, and volume.

*ASTI’s Jeanne Barrett welcomed the relevant topics in the afternoon’s civic, social and political education paper. But she said one question was awkward in how it tried to connect the Referendum Commission to democracy in schools.

This question also drew criticism from the CSPE Teachers’ Association, whose spokesperson Brendan O’Regan said it was factually incorrect in its description of the commission’s work. This error was later acknowledged by the State Examinations Commission.

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