Leaving Cert students to be offered both written exams and 'corresponding measure' 

Leaving Cert students to be offered both written exams and 'corresponding measure' 

Following crisis talks with Norma Foley, the Minister for Education, on Friday, the ASTI said the minister was "unequivocal" in her commitment to holding the Leaving Cert this year.

Both written exams and a "corresponding measure" are to be offered to students sitting the Leaving Cert this year.

However, the exact details of this arrangement have yet to be worked out as confidential discussions between second-level teachers' unions and the Department of Education continue.

It is now expected that a detailed plan can be drawn up and published, with Junior Minister Thomas Byrne telling the Seanad that the Government is hopeful of reaching a resolution in the coming days, but that it is "subject to ongoing negotiation".

"A flexible and agile approach is necessary in light of the fast-moving changes linked to Covid-19 but the welfare of students and their families is front and centre in all decision-making," he said.

Last Thursday,the Association of Secondary Teachers (ASTI) pulled out suddenly from the bi-lateral talks, citing concerns over the prominence of calculated grades.

The union said it believed it was "unacceptable" that a plan was being developed that would see students "preparing for two versions of a Leaving Cert, with calculated grades being the dominant option, and the Leaving Cert exams filling in assessment gaps".

The ASTI also cited concerns around the lack of available data for this year’s students as they have missed so much in-person class time due to extended school closures during lockdown.

However, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) remained engaged in the talks, describing itself as "keenly aware of the need for clarity" to all assessment elements.

Following crisis talks with Education Minister Norma Foley on Friday, the ASTI said the minister was "unequivocal" in her commitment to holding the Leaving Cert this year.

On that basis, the ASTI believes that doubts regarding the staging of additional component elements of this year’s Leaving Certificate Examinations have been substantially alleviated"

"We expect the minister to ensure that they will take place,” a spokesperson said.

The union has also received assurances that teachers will not have to rank their students as part of any "corresponding measure", the union added.

The Irish Second-Level Students' Union (ISSU) has been advocating for students to be given a choice between written exams and an alternative assessment, like calculated grades.

Sinn Féin education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said the Government had failed Leaving Cert students for far too long, with "constant dithering and delay".

“From speaking with students, I know they are incredibly frustrated, stressed and worried. Students have made it clear that they want a choice between an alternative form of assessment, such as calculated grades, and a written exam.

“Some students will want to sit written exams, and those who wish to do so should be facilitated in doing so. However, a choice is only fair in the context of the significant learning loss experienced by Leaving Cert students," he said.

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