High failure rates in language exams


HIGH FAILURE rates in languages are a striking feature of the Junior Cert results released today.

Almost 12 per cent of students failed ordinary level French this year, while only 60 per cent managed an A, B or C grade.

Failure rates in languages at higher level were lower – 5 per cent of students failed the French paper. The French honours rate was 69 per cent – the lowest of all the higher level subjects.

The trend continued with other foreign languages. More than 9 per cent of ordinary level Spanish students failed. German students fared better but the failure rate was still more than 6 per cent.

There are also encouraging trends in the results, including the continuing decline in failure rates in maths, along with better uptake (48 per cent) for higher level maths.

Almost 59,000 students will receive their Junior Cert results this morning.

Overall, 7 per cent of students failed maths at ordinary level, down marginally. At higher level, the maths failure rate is down to 2.8 per cent, from 4.2 per cent in 2010.

The honours rate in maths is slightly down on last year’s rate of almost 80 per cent – 79.2 of this year’s higher level cohort managed an A, B, or C grade – but it is up on 2010’s rate of less than 78 per cent.

The new Project Maths curriculum was a feature of the exam for students in 24 pilot schools. Half of these students took the exam at higher level, slightly down on last year’s figure of 52 per cent.

Nonetheless, an examination of the grade breakdown would indicate that Project Maths is not the easy option its critics believe it to be. A smaller proportion of higher level Project Maths students received As and Bs than did their mainstream counterparts.

Project Maths students received more Cs and Ds, but a smaller proportion of them failed outright. The course will be rolled out in all schools by 2015.

Overall, results were more or less in line with previous years. Home economics; art, craft and design; religious education and music, as well as subjects such as metalwork and woodwork are all areas in which higher level students do well. At least 85 per cent of higher level students taking those subjects got an honour.

Home economics is the subject with the largest higher level honours rate, at almost 95 per cent.

French and history appear to be the toughest subjects at higher level, with 69 and 72 per cent of students managing an A, B or C in those respective subjects.

Among high achievers 19 students share the top spot, with a grand total of 12 higher level As each.

If students have a query about their marks and wish to have their papers rechecked, they can apply for the service through their school. Applications must arrive at the State Examinations Commission by 5pm on September 28th. The fee for a recheck is €32, which is refundable in the event of an upgrade.

Students can access their results online at examinations.iefrom 4pm today