Irish Second-Level Students’ Union:   PRESS STATEMENT

The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union welcomes the decision made by Minister O’Keeffe to have a ‘profile analysis’ of grades conducted following concerns regarding the potential ‘dumbing down’ of Irish education standards.

ISSU believes that it is of the utmost importance that the credibility of the Irish education system be protected before it affects the ability of our Leaving Certificate students to progress to third level education in an academic facility abroad or the ability of our university graduates to pursue international job opportunities.

However ISSU believes that the increase by 500 per cent in the number of students obtaining the ‘perfect Leaving Cert’ cannot simply be put down to ‘grade inflation’. Improvements in ICT and most notably the ease at which students can access information and additional learning resources online  as well as the availability of grinds schools have undoubtedly played a major role in the increase  in higher grades at Leaving Cert level. ISSU feels that the bell curve formula applied to Leaving Cert results should be made more transparent and accessible to help ensure continuity of results from year to year.

Speaking today a spokesperson from ISSU said “Time spent investigating ‘inflation’ of grades is time wasted, as it is obvious that efforts to dumb down the Leaving Certificate have been made for many years now, most notably in the areas of Maths and Science – the most recent being Project Maths. Our State Examinations, Syllabi, and Curriculum need a dramatic overhaul; subject by subject feeding into a more modern examination structure. The Junior and Leaving Certificate exams are old fashioned, out dated and a waste of time and resources. Times change, the world changes but our examinations stay the same? Surely this doesn’t add up! We’ve spend enough time chiselling away at subjects in an attempt to make them more attractive and appear easier. Let’s face facts; the Leaving Certificate doesn’t prepare you for college or life outside of education – and as a result the transition to more ‘independent’ learning at third level becomes a difficult transition for some students. We need to encourage more creative and dynamic learning at second-level, the ability to rote-learn a paragraph isn’t a fundamental life-skill.”