Belfast Telegraph

Project Maths pupils improve marks

Students in the 24 Project Maths schools are securing better results in the subject than the rest of the country, figures have revealed.

A breakdown of marks for nearly 2,000 students showed similar A grades at higher level and better A grades at ordinary level.

The State Examinations Commission (SEC) said 441 students took the higher level paper in the 24 schools and returned a higher rate of A1s and lower rate of failures.

The most significant improvement was seen in students sitting ordinary level exams.

Some 1,341 students, 69% of the pilot scheme, sat these papers and secured significantly more A grades than the rest of the country - nine A1s and 60 A2s, and only 75 fails, significantly less than the average.

The SEC said there were only 175 students taking foundation maths in the 24 schools and no meaningful conclusions can be drawn from their results. Exam chiefs have insisted that the actual numbers hitting top marks in the higher level maths overall are similar to previous years.

The SEC also said that 2012 saw the highest percentage of students taking higher maths since 1997 when 19% of students took the exam. The 1,984 students in the 24 schools piloting Project Maths have been examined in all five strands of the syllabus. Students sitting the Leaving Certificate in other schools nationwide were only examined on two strands of the syllabus.

Tony Donohoe, head of education policy at the Irish Business Employers Confederation, said: "Increased take-up of the higher level option sends out an important signal of our intention to improve mathematical performance.

"Maths skills are very much in demand from the high-value, knowledge-intensive businesses that will drive our economic recovery. The single most important element in improving the level of maths attainment in schools is the quality of teaching.

"This issue has become even more critical with the introduction of the new Project Maths curriculum, which requires a deeper understanding of the application of mathematical concepts by both teachers and students alike."

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