Why are fewer teachers signing up to mark the State exams?

State Examinations Commissions is under pressure to find enough examiners

As a school principal I have always encouraged teachers to apply to the State Exams Commission (SEC) to correct Junior and Leaving Cert papers. In recent years, it seems fewer teaching staff are interested, irrespective of the financial return. Could this put the system of external assessment at risk?

You are absolutely correct in your observation that the SEC has had to appeal to teachers for many years now to come forward and seek employment as examiners for their subject areas. In fact, the SEC is continuing to recruit examiners, just days before they get under way.

Even though it was never part of their contractual duties – and they are remunerated separately for this work – teachers are essential to the effective operation of the State exams system. If they choose not to apply for this work, how can the SEC continue deliver the annual State exams service for the benefit of students, the education system and society in general?

The SEC publicly makes the case as to why teachers should see the correction of State exam papers as central to their professional development, no matter how much they may want to take a break from it over the summer months.

It makes the case that teachers who correct scripts can enhance the quality of their teaching of relevant subjects by gaining an insight into the marking process.

They also gain a deeper understanding of the assessment process; learn about the national marking process; exercise their professional judgment; network with other professionals; increase their professional development; and enhance their career opportunities by being able to include examinations experience on a CV.

It is also worth noting that Junior Cycle exams were last held in schools in summer of 2019. So, this year's exams are essentially the first year of assessment of the full Junior Cycle specification. There are also new and recently introduced subject specifications at Leaving Cert level.

The SEC full training is provided and a support network is available throughout the entire marking process.

As I understand it, all fees for correcting work have increased significantly: Leaving Cert script fees have increased by between 17-50 per cent; and Junior Cycle script fees have increased by 48-57 per cent

Script fees are subject specific and relate to complexity and time required to mark them.

Fees are also paid for attendance at training conferences; for administration work; and for travel and subsistence.

If as a teacher you believe that the current system of external assessment is worth preserving, and you are open to undertaking the work this summer, the SEC will be happy to hear from you (examinations.ie).