Junior cycle students can avoid 10 per cent penalty

Up to 40,000 students must wait until ASTI responds to see if they can sit assessment

Students take part in group work as part of the new junior cycle. The State Examination Commission says new guidance on classroom-based assessments will allow junior cycle English students to avoid a 10 per cent penalty in their summer exams.

Students take part in group work as part of the new junior cycle. The State Examination Commission says new guidance on classroom-based assessments will allow junior cycle English students to avoid a 10 per cent penalty in their summer exams.

 

The State Examinations Commission says new guidance on classroom-based assessments will allow junior cycle English students to avoid a 10 per cent penalty in their summer exams. However, up to 40,000 students must wait until the end of this week to see if the intervention marks a breakthrough in the long-running dispute.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), which has banned its members from co-operating with the reforms, is expected to issue a formal response on Friday following a meeting of its standing committee.

Union sources expect the ASTI to reject the guidance given the depth of opposition to the reforms among committee members.

Tens of thousands of students – typically those in voluntary secondary schools – have not taken part in classroom-based assessments due to the ASTI dispute over junior cycle reform.

The union’s opposition to the changes stems mainly from its belief that teachers should not have to mark their students’ work for State exams.

Classroom-based assessment

Students in other schools where English teachers are either non-union or are members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have completed these classroom-based assessments and are set to be marked out of 100 per cent.

The reformed junior cycle aims to record a wider range of students’ skills through two classroom-based assessments in which teachers assess their own students’ performance.

They result in descriptors which state whether students met, exceeded or failed to meet expectations.

In addition, students must complete a final assessment task in the classroom – worth 10 per cent of their examination – in which they are asked to reflect on their learning in the second classroom-based assessment. This task is marked externally by the State Examination Commission.

In a statement posted on the commission’s website, it says students can complete this final assessment task even if their teachers did not mark their second classroom-based assessment.

It says this is due to the fact that the second classroom-based assessment is based on a “collection of texts”, which students would have undertaken as part of their regular study.

SEC guidance

Further, the SEC states that supervision arrangements for the assessment task are in line with those that apply to externally-assessed coursework in a range of subjects across both junior and senior cycle, such as Junior Certificate science or Leaving Certificate history and geography.

“As a result of this SEC guidance, all students will have access to both components of the 2017 Junior Cycle English final examination, including the assessment Task, and accordingly their final grade will be based on 100 per cent of the available mark,” the SEC’s guidance states.

If the union maintains its policy of non-co-operation, it is possible external supervisors could be brought into schools to allow students to complete an assessment task, though the commission has ruled this out for now.

In its statement, it said long-standing arrangements provide for school supervision of work for external assessment by the SEC.

“For the avoidance of doubt, SEC reiterates that the question of appointing external supervision for the completion of the assessment task in English does not arise,” it adds.