Belfast Telegraph

Teachers' exam abolition fears

Teachers' unions have expressed fears that abolishing exams in the junior certificate could erode parents' trust in the education system.

With education minister Ruairi Quinn set to overhaul the secondary system with more continuous assessment, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) said it had concerns about in-house grading.

General secretary John MacGabhann said there needed to be assurances that teachers and schools were comparing like for like.

"My understanding is there will be a common paper but the expectation would be that teachers would run and mark the examination papers," he said. "If the State is going to gather data on the basis of these results, how is the State going to establish that there is a common approach across the sector?"

The TUI chief added: "What we can't afford in the public education system is an erosion of trust."

Unions have suggested that the Department of Education will have to consider whether an external moderation system should be put in place and to what degree it could be used.

Mr Quinn's plans involve the scrapping of a State exam at the end of third year for secondary pupils. Teachers would conduct continuous assessment over the three years of the junior cycle, but there would be standardised tests in English and maths, and eventually science.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland said the most important thing was how the changes would affect students.

"It is essential that parents and teachers are engaged in, and have confidence and faith in, whatever emerges," the spokesman said.

"The current junior cert exams model offers students a transparent, objective, credible and fair certification process."

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