herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Bonus points may be reviewed as fail rate for higher maths rises

A student prepares for exams
A student prepares for exams
Students learning in library
Minister Jan O’Sullivan

With an increasing number of students failing honours-level maths, the Minister for Education is not ruling out reviewing the points bonus for the higher paper.

Results published today showed the uptake for higher-level maths has levelled off after several years of growth, with 27pc taking the tougher paper, the same as last year.

However, the failure rate in the subject has risen to 5.2pc, up from 4.2pc last year, 3.3pc in 2013 and 2.3pc in 2012.

Positive

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan said the introduction of the bonus had achieved the goal of increasing the number of students taking the higher-level maths paper, but she plans to keep it under review to ensure it is “working properly”.

“The percentage of students who didn’t get a D or higher than a D in honours maths is round about the average for the maths-science subjects

generally,” she said.

“What is positive about the higher-level maths paper is that we now have about 27pc of students who are taking it and that’s been steadily increasing.”

When asked whether the

failure rate raises questions about the need to focus on the quality of maths teaching, Minister O’Sullivan insisted a number of measures have been taken in relation to offering courses to maths teachers who want to upskill.

“It’s a combination of both – obviously we need quality in the teaching but we also need I think for students to feel this is something that they can do.”

The introduction of 25 CAO bonus points for a D grade or better in 2012 has led to a 30pc jump in those taking the paper.

Some 57,929 Leaving Cert students received their results this morning, with college offers through the Central Applications Office (CAO) being issued on Monday.

One Leaving Cert student – David Glynn from Castlebar,  Mayo – is basking in the glory of getting top marks today with an impressive nine A1s.

Eight students scored eight A1s, but there is also good news for those who took the ordinary level maths papers.

The results show that Leaving Certificate ordinary-level maths grades soared this year.

In a double bonus for students who left exam halls in tears following an “undoable” exam paper, the fail rate has dropped dramatically, while ABC grades have also shot up.

The striking improvement in ordinary-level maths grades will be attributed to a more generous approach to marking papers to compensate for the difficulties.

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