Sir, – The latest problem to beset the new Junior Cycle is becoming increasingly evident with the rollout of classroom-based assessments (CBAs). CBAs entail students undertaking a two- to three-week project in class for each subject they study in second and third year. In third year students have to complete an “assessment task” linked to their CBA which is worth 10 per cent of their final Junior Cycle subject mark.
As each subject is allocated a specific few weeks each year to complete a CBA, the reality of this system is that every student will in the near future spend a significant part of their second and third years doing one CBA after another.
School trips and sporting activities will most likely be affected as students will not want to miss their CBA classes and deadlines.
Schools will have to spend valuable administrative time implementing CBA calendars, processing results and organising reasonable accommodations for students who miss CBAs for good reasons. The teachers of each subject will have to meet for two hours each year to grade collectively these projects, having already undertaken hours of professional development to help them implement CBAs. To top it all off, the CBAs will each year replace the traditional Christmas or summer exam assessment for individual subjects.
Given that students regularly undertook such project-style work in lots of classes and almost always sat both a Christmas and summer exam before the new Junior Cycle was introduced, the reality of CBAs is that they are an extremely inefficient way of assessing students, are very arguably less effective than previous practices and will probably increase student (and teacher) stress levels. Some might even say that CBAs are a monumental waste of time, effort and energy and perfectly illustrate the folly associated with the new Junior Cycle reforms.
My vote goes to the party that pledges to do something about the new Junior Cycle reforms. – Yours, etc,