Disadvantaged students disadvantaged again
by Diarmaid Mac a Bhaird

Changes to the leaving certificate grading system have negatively impacted on students experiencing educational disadvantage – those who attend DEIS schools – according to a new report from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).


The early impact of the revised Leaving Certificate grading scheme on student perceptions and behaviour examines the impact of leaving cert grading changes on behaviour, exam performance and perceptions among students.


Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, one of the report’s authors, Professor Emer Smyth, said students “feel that no matter how well they do, or how hard they work, there's a limit to the grades and the points that they can achieve." She also added that the issue was particularly acute in mathematics.


Fórsa’s incoming head of education Andy Pike acknowledged that more students were taking up higher level courses. “Although greater take up of higher level is one of the aims of the 2017 changes, it’s having a negative impact on the overall results of students from DEIS schools, and has not seen a commensurate improvement in attainment,” he said.


Andy added that there was a need for action on the recommendations of the report. “Improved guidance and communication on what level students should take subjects in, particularly within smaller schools, and a greater emphasis on guidance counselling are important moving forward,” he said.    


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