Students could earn CAO points for broader skills under new reforms
CAO points could be awarded for a wider variety of skills under new Leaving Cert reforms, Education Minister Norma Foley has said.
School leaders want to see greater recognition in a revamped higher cycle for teamwork, communication skills and work experience.
Ms Foley confirmed on Thursday that policymakers were seeking to ensure that a “wider variety of skills are measured in different ways” through project work, practical work and other assessment elements.
She said these changes will eventually impact students’ final grades and CAO points, where applicable.
She said Minister for Further and Further Education, Simon Harris, “is very committed to ensuring that there is a match between OAC and what we do here at graduate school. will be realized.
“But to get there, we have to take responsibility; that is, to ensure that we successfully reimagine graduate delivery, what it means for our students, and how they can best showcase their diverse talents and skills.
Ms Foley was speaking at the annual conference of the Joint Managerial Body (JMB), which represents voluntary secondary schools, in Killarney on Thursday.
As part of recently announced reforms, students entering higher education in September 2023 will take the first test in English and Irish at the end of year five.
Longer term, 60% of grades for all Leaving Cert subjects will be based on written exams and 40% on additional assessment items such as project work, orals or practicals.
JMB President Deirdre Matthews said there was a danger that if the CAD system did not recognize broader skills or experience during the transition year and beyond, they would be diminished in sixth grade.
“We need to recognize students’ interpersonal and communication skills; their ability to research projects from start to finish. At my own school, we have a student-led transition year musical. Students shine in this field and develop skills, but there is no way at present to recognize it.
Ms Foley said a planned reform approach will reduce student stress by ensuring they focus less on final exams in June.
She acknowledged that many teachers oppose the idea of assessing their own students for the Leaving Cert, but asked educators to “walk with me” to reform.
Unlike the calculated grades process used during the pandemic, she said only 40% will be awarded based on teacher evaluation in a system moderated by the State Examinations Commission.
In addition, Ms Foley said, schools and teachers will receive extensive ongoing training.
While school leaders have widely welcomed the reforms, JMB’s Ms Matthews said policymakers must ensure that parents’ choice in education is respected and that all types of schools are supported.
This included the fee-paying sector, she said, which receives a lower level of funding than other schools.
“Fee-paying schools are not for-profit schools. They are charities. . . It would be a sad day if we ended up with a declining paying sector and a stronger for-profit sector.
Ms Matthews also paid tribute to Ms Foley and the former Secretary General of the Ministry of Education, Seán Ó Foglú, for their support to the education sector during the Covid-19 pandemic.