Teachers see surge in students studying higher-level maths
on 18/09/2012 00:00:00
There are already signs of a knock-on effect among younger students, with last week's Junior Certificate results showing the numbers who took higher-level maths exceeded those who sat ordinary level for the first time in over a decade.
Most students who drop to ordinary level wait until after the first term of fifth year or nearer to the Leaving Certificate itself.
The Irish Maths Teachers Association (IMTA) reports that members have seen a huge increase in numbers attempting higher-level maths in the first few weeks of fifth year. Its secretary Brendan O'Sullivan said it was undoubtedly due to the bonus points scheme.
"In the past, many would get decent grades like Bs and Cs at Junior Certificate higher level and then do ordinary level for the Leaving. We're seeing students with As in ordinary level and every single grade in higher attempting higher-level maths this year," he said.
The increases come despite concerns raised by academics and teachers about the Project Maths syllabus, part of which was examined for the first time in all schools this year.
The IMTA is reviewing its policy on the course, with reports on content, methodology, and assessment being produced by each of its 15 branches.
"This will result in a renewed policy on Project Maths. Our last one criticised the rapid introduction of Project Maths but said that it sounded like a positive initiative," said Mr O'Sullivan.
"On the whole, we support its goals and aims but there is a worry there is a huge demand on time in terms of coverage. Teachers find it difficult to introduce problem solving into the classroom and they are not comfortable with the examination format yet."
There have also been queries around the marking scheme, with suggestions the State Examinations Commission told examiners to change how they marked some Project Maths questions after early sampling suggested a number of students had difficulties.
The SEC said in August that the procedure was in line with changes to marking schemes in many subjects every year. The IMTA said it was not too troubled by the issue.