ASTI to engage with grade plan but has 'major concerns'

Updated / Sunday, 10 May 2020 15:37

The Leaving Cert will be decided by calculated grades this year (file pic)

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) is advising its members to engage with the new calculated grading plan for the Leaving Cert - but has a number of "major concerns" about the process.

They include the Minister's rescinding of his previous decision to award students 100% for orals and certain practical examinations, which were to have taken place earlier this year.

The ASTI is calling for the Minister not to renege on his granting of full marks to students for orals, practicals, etc. and that this be extended to all Leaving Certificate project/practical work.

The union also has concerns regarding the data to be relied upon by teachers in this process and said it will raise these matters with the Department of Education at the earliest opportunity.

In addition, the union said it has concerns relating to equity and perceived objectivity for students as well as concerns relating to the professional integrity of teachers and school leaders.

It is calling on Minister for Education Joe McHugh to address these concerns "as a matter of urgency".

ASTI President Deirdre MacDonald has said that the union was not a party to the development of the calculated grade system.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week programme, she said that the advisory group was first presented with the plan on Wednesday.

She said that despite the serious concerns the union has about the plan, its support is not conditional and it was engaging fully with the process to ensure fairness and equity.

Ms MacDonald said it was "very unfair and unjust" of Minister McHugh to reverse his decision to award students 100% for their orals and other project work.

She said that the union wanted to make sure that objectivity was maintained and that teachers would base their assessments on data that was on the school system such as exams that have already been taken.

Ms MacDonald said that it was very important that teachers are protected, and the union has engaged its own legal experts and is asking for legal clarification from the Department of Education.

She said that lobbying was a concern and a protocol would have to be put in place to deal with this "immediately".

Asked about the likelihood of schools reopening in September, Ms MacDonald said that while the fate of Leaving Certificate students was their initial concern, the return to school for other students was their next concern.

She said that a lot of the logistics explored in relation to the Leaving Certificate would play into this.

The ASTI has a long-standing policy of teachers not assessing their students for the purpose of State Certification. It said this is to ensure the integrity of the State exams process.

In the context of the current global pandemic, the union said it recognises it is necessary to engage with this new process. It has "secured confirmation from the Department and the Minister that these measures are being implemented on an emergency basis and will not be regarded as a precedent or an agreement to operate this process in future years".

Yesterday, the Teachers' Union of Ireland confirmed that it will engage in the newly-devised 'calculated grades' system.