Teachers express fears over abolition of Junior Cert exams04/10/2012 - 16:23:09
The current Junior Certificate examination process is to be phased out over the next eight years.
It will be replaced with continuous assessments and a test carried out by individual schools, rather than a State exam.
The radical shake-up of the system was announced by the Education Minsiter Ruairi Quinn this afternoon.
By 2020 the existing Junior Cert will be no more, according to the plan drawn up by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, which is to be introduced on a phased basis from September 2014.
Schools will be able to choose from 21subjects and a range of short courses, including Chinese and Computer Programming.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said there will be a focus on learning rather than exams.
The new programme will cost around €10m a year to implement.
Teachers’ unions have expressed fears that abolishing the exams could erode parents’ trust in the education system.
Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) General secretary John MacGabhann said there needed to be assurances that teachers and schools were comparing like for like.
“My understanding is there will be a common paper but the expectation would be that teachers would run and mark the examination papers,” he said.
“If the State is going to gather data on the basis of these results, how is the State going to establish that there is a common approach across the sector?”
The TUI chief added: “What we can’t afford in the public education system is an erosion of trust.”
Unions have suggested that the Department of Education will have to consider whether an external moderation system should be put in place and to what degree it could be used.
Mr Quinn’s plans involve the scrapping the exam to be replaced by teachers conducting continuous assessment over the three years of the junior cycle, but there would be standardised tests in English and maths, and eventually science.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) said the most important thing was how the changes would affect students.
“It is essential that parents and teachers are engaged in, and have confidence and faith in, whatever emerges,” the spokesman said.
“The current junior cert exams model offers students a transparent, objective, credible and fair certification process.”
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