Further changes to exam papers on table in Leaving Cert discussions

Further adjustments to Leaving Cert papers are on the table in discussions on the final shape of the State exams 2202.

ore modifications to written papers and other exam components, such as practicals, were raised at a meeting of the State Exams Advisory Group, led by Education Minister Norma Foley.

The minister is under pressure to rethink this year’s assessments because of the Covid-related disruption, including high levels of student and teacher absences due to the Omicron variant.

Today’s meeting heard the views of all education stakeholders, and now the minister will engage separately with each group to tease out a solution.

Students and parents and Opposition parties are among those seeking a 2021-style hybrid where candidates had the choice of written exams and accredited grades, based on teachers’ estimated marks, or both.

However, the minister, the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and teacher unions are among those who want a return to a traditional exams-only Leaving Cert.

The meeting was told that other countries are conducting traditional exams this year and that the public health advice was that they could be expected to run in normal, or near normal conditions.

Ms Foley, who described the meeting as “positive and collaborative engagement”, said she was very aware of the disruption experienced by students who are due to sit State exams.

The Department of Education said it was agreed the members of the advisory group would reflect on the contributions made at the meeting, and engagement would continue between the Minster and the stakeholders on a bilateral basis over the coming days.

Further modifications to written papers and other exam components, could mean further choice in and between questions, and reducing the number of questions students have to tackle.

Progress made in the upcoming bilateral discussions will determine whether a solution can found on the basis of further modifications or whether the minister will still face demands for a non-exam options, such as accredited grades.

While much of the attention is on the Leaving Cert the discussion will also consider what, if any, modifications need to be made to the Junior Cert.

A date for the next advisory group meeting will be set in the coming days.

The State exams Advisory group includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, principals and school management bodies, the State Examinations Commission (SEC), the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Department of Education, including the National Educational Psychological Service.

The Higher Education Authority attended the meeting in an observer capacity.

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