Reforms to see students who get 20% in Junior Cert exams pass

Move aimed at placing less emphasis on rote-learning and written exams

Under junior cycle reforms students who score who score between 20 and 40 per cent will secure a “partially achieved” grading. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Under junior cycle reforms students who score who score between 20 and 40 per cent will secure a “partially achieved” grading. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Students who sit the new junior cycle programme from next year will be able to pass their final written exams by scoring as little as 20 per cent.

The changes form part of major reforms aimed at placing less emphasis on rote-learning and written exams and more on modern approaches to assessment and learning.

A 24-page draft circular issued by the Department of Education to teachers’ unions and education partners is understood to outline key changes to how exams will be graded. Instead of traditional grades, such as As and Bs, it proposes that students would be graded using descriptive terms such as “merit” or “distinction”. For example, a student who receives between 90 and 100 per cent in the final written exam will receive a “distinction”.

Higher merit

Scores of under 20 per cent will be deemed to be “not graded”. The new approach will be used in the final written exam for English next year, and is due to expand to include all other junior cycle subjects over the coming years.

A spokeswoman for the department declined to comment on the circular, except to say it was being finalised.