Junior Cycle update

As the Junior Certificate has been cancelled and there is no State based Certification for Junior Cycle this year we in Drogheda Grammar school still wish to validate, recognise and reward the work done by our 3rd year students and their teachers over the 3 years of their Junior Cycle.

 

 Unless we are instructed otherwise by the Department of Education we will implement the following plan:

  1. End of term assessments for 3rd year will go ahead in the final 2 weeks of May. The format of these exams will be online assessments. Our subject departments have decided on these and have already been informing the students about their format and content via Google classroom this week.
  2. The May assessment is only a part of their Junior Cert/Cycle exams. It is designed to give them focus and something to aim for in the coming weeks. However, we are facing the reality there are no Junior Cycle exams and we feel it best to bring their Junior Cycle to an end at this point rather than delay until September. They are ready.
  3. The school will produce a Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement over the course of the summer to recognise each student’s abilities, achievements and performance. They will receive a final grade for each subject, as well as the marks for their completed CBA’s. We will award this as normal in September.

 

How the final grade (what goes on their profile of achievement) for each subject will be decided:

  • The exam/ assessment this May will only be 40% of their final mark which will appear on their Certificate next September- therefore the May assessment is not their final Junior Cert, in fact it is a lesser part but still has some importance.
  • The remaining 60% of their final grade will be made up of the following:

                          30%- Mock result

                          20%- Average of 2nd year results in Christmas and summer exams

                          10% – Average of 1st year results in Christmas and summer exams

 

The only exception to this will be in practical subjects where coursework components have been submitted already.  e.g. technology, or for our 2 short courses, CSPE and Computer Studies which will be based on Continuous assessment tests which have already happened.

 

WHY THIS WAY?

– It is a fairer reflection of students’ work over the 3 years of Junior Cycle and by weighting it in this manner it allows us to take into account a student maturing, developing a better understanding of the subject etc.

– We can stand over it and the integrity of our teaching and exam system in the school. It is not based on opinion, preference or personality.

-The majority of the work is done/marks achieved- this takes into account the unusual circumstances we are in. It will ease the workload for 3rd years and reward those who have worked consistently over 3 years. By weighting it in this manner it still allows for those who took time to settle in, who made an error in an exam etc.  

– Apart from the end of term assessment (which has been flagged) no additional work needs to be set- also our summer assessment for 3rd years will not be as stressful as the real Junior Cert/Cycle. This has been planned already and will be fair yet challenging.

– It alleviates much of the stress knowing their final grade does not come down to 1 exam, nor are they waiting all summer to sit it.

 

WHAT IF?

  1. A student has not been present for some exams-we will work out an average with the work we have. No student will be disadvantaged for being sick, absent etc. 
  2. A student is sick, unavailable for end of May assessment etc.–  We will arrange an alternative time or opportunity if there is a valid reason.
  3. A student is unhappy with their final grade– we will be fair and do our best by them. Their grade is one which will support their work and reward their efforts- we will be positive. Our approach will be transparent. Our judgement will be fair, honest and trustworthy. We know our students and have the evidence of their abilities from their previous work to guide us.
  4. The department of Education issues different guidelines/rules-let’s wait and see- we will follow them if practical and in the best interests of our students. If not we will continue as set out above and do what is right for our students.

Why can’t we?

  1. Just have the exams in September– we have serious concerns about the practicalities of this and also wish to end the Junior Cycle at the appropriate time and allow everyone to start fresh next year. We as of now do not know when we will be able to return and to what extent that return will look like in September. Starting TY with exams will not be a productive start to the school year and will cause further stress for our students over the summer.
  2. Just give predicted grades and not have a May assessment? –  This way is more transparent and also keeps everyone focused for the remaining few weeks. It is not a high pressure exam like the original Junior Cert- rather it is the final piece of the jigsaw.  By using the other exam results we are also assessing our students under exam conditions as well as with our different style of online assessment in May.
  3. Wait until the Department tells us what to do? –we are open to this but are also conscious of the uncertainty for both parents and students. With this plan it gives clarity for the coming weeks which we need. We wish to support you by giving clarity and certainty in these difficult times.

 

No matter what happens each student will get a grade that positively reflects their work and ability over the 3-year Junior Cycle period. We believe it may even be a fairer assessment of their work and ability than either the original exam or one in September that we will be dreading all summer and will be impossible to keep focused on.

 

I hope this explains where we are going with this. I understand we are changing the rules of everything but it is necessary at this point. We are doing it as fairly as possible and hopefully with your support. 

 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

  • Class and revision as normal over the coming weeks. Teachers will continue to guide and advise regarding the content of the upcoming assessments.
  • On Wednesday (tomorrow) there will be a live tutorial to explain to the students themselves what is happening. 
  • Subject teachers will be clear about the content and the form of exam/assessment- it will be manageable and achievable within the next 3 weeks timeframe. This will be reported on as a normal “house exam” in the summer report. It is not their Junior Cycle final grade. 
  • Further information and guidelines regarding the summer assessments will be issued to all parents in the coming weeks.
  • Over the summer we will calculate the final grade which will appear on their profile of achievement on their return. This profile of achievement will also reflect the other areas of learning and contribution to school life throughout their Junior Cycle.
  • If you have any questions please email them to info@droghedagrammarschool.ie and we will do our best to answer them.

 

Kind regards and take care,

 

Hugh Baker

Headmaster