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Two-thirds of students want hybrid state exams

Two-thirds of exam students want a hybrid form of state exams in 2022, according to a survey by the Irish Second Level Students’ Union (ISSU).

The survey closed on Friday 14 January, and received more than 40,900 responses from students from all over Ireland.

The results show that the majority of students prefer a hybrid model, similar to last year, where 68% of final students and 63% of middle school students support such a system, which offered students the choice of taking a written test or accepting the expected score for each subject.

Students expressed concerns about class absences, student-teacher absences, as well as the stress and mental health impact of the pandemic.

Speaking on the subject, ISSU Uachtarán Emer Neville called on Education Minister Norma Foley to introduce a hybrid model.

“We call on the Ministry of Education to hear the voices of students who continue their education in extraordinary times,” she said.

With levels of turmoil, mental health stress and grade loss, we are asking the Minister to submit a hybrid form for the state examinations.

Aodhán’erríordáin, the Labor Party’s spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade, said that regarding the Hybrid Leaving Certificate, “we’ve done it before and we can do it again”.

“It would be wrong for the minister to return to normal given that the education experience of students continues to be negatively affected by the pandemic,” he said.

“None of us want to be in this position, but it is only fair to give students clarity now, and to make sure that over the next few months there is a defined path in place for students leaving the degree.”

Sinn Féin Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire Education Spokesperson also urged the Minister to take an interest in the results of the survey and offer students a choice.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the adjustments to the assessment arrangements, announced in August, already take into account more of the past and potential disruption to learning that students are experiencing.

The measures include more time and flexibility around coursework, greater choice in exam papers, and an alternative set of exit certification exams being taken to students who are unable to take the main set of exams for various reasons, including COVID-19.

“All plans for the 2022 exams will be guided by prevailing public health advice and will take into account the well-being of our students,” a department spokesperson said.

A meeting of the Advisory Group on State Examinations is planned for later this week, which includes students, parents, teachers and representatives of school leaders, as well as representatives from the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum, Evaluation and Higher Education and the Ministry of Education.

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