The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) is welcoming proposals to reform the Junior Certificate exam, which is in dire need of a major overhaul.

Under new proposals reported in today’s Irish Times, the emphasis of the State exams would move away from written terminal exams and focus more on school-based portfolio work. 

Written exams would account for only 50 per cent of the marks in the revised Junior Cert, with continuous assessment accounting for the other 50 percent. 

USI believes that Ireland needs to take a step back and evaluate the Junior Certificate as young students are being forced to do too many exams in too short a period of time, leading to high stress and reduced performance.

A system of continuous assessment for the Junior Certificate should be introduced to evaluate a students’ performance over a more extended period of time.

USI President, Gary Redmond, said:

“In the months before their State exams, Junior Certificate students are under an enormous amount of unnecessary pressure, studying intensely for an exam system that needs to be re-evaluated.

Under the new proposals for a revised Junior Cert, all students would still take a written exam in June in eight subjects, and this would be accompanied by a portfolio component assessed by the school and externally moderated by the State Exams Commission. 

This new system of continuous assessment should be introduced for a fairer assessment of the performance of secondary school students over a longer period of time. 

The emphasis of Ireland’s State exams needs to be taken away from rote learning.”