While it was ‘up, up and beyond’ for the majority of post-leaving certificate students last week, others were faced with less than satisfactory results, particularly those who took the bullet fired by the Education system in the dramatic increase of selected courses.
Certain 2011-12 university/college selections boomed by a whopping 100 points and beyond, in comparison to quite steady yet moderate fluctuations in the requirements of recent years.
Although not naming names, the finger can be pointed specifically at one or two institutions whose points requirements radically rose this year, however most would agree every university or college is guilty solely because of the course itself, not its course provider. For example, it was recently confirmed that the CAO choices this year differed completely than recent years, not following any of the expected trends for most/least popular courses. The Irish Education System sees it as a positive result that corresponds to fit gaps in the economy right now and inevitable gaps in the future.
Could the dramatic increase of requirements for such sporadic courses be responsible for the welcomed yet ‘unforeseen’ shift in Leaving Cert tendencies?
It would be easier than foundation level maths to manipulate CAO decisions to benefit the economy in the long-run. In the grand scheme of things, when over 50,000 students across one small nation are limited for choice regarding the progression of their education, there is bound to be an abundance of applicants in one course, and a complete deficiency in another. What better way to solve this annual problem than to tighten the nuts and bolts of one sought-after course, and throw a spanner in the works for another. Perhaps the reason why 2011 differed so highly from previous years is not on the students part but by the ridiculous escalation of points in random areas of the CAO system, and complete consistency in another.
Undoubtedly, the time is approaching when the age-old question of the ‘fairness’ of our system will be evaluated. It seems quite simple that those who work well under the pressure and workload of the Leaving certificate benefit and support the system, while those who perform more weakly despise and want to abolish it. There is undoubtedly a side of everyone that questions a system where someone’s life direction truly depends on one’s performance on a certain day, or an Exam Commissioner’s decision to boost the difficulty levels of a certain paper.
The reason it has stayed the same way for so long is because it works, but also leaves victims behind on a yearly basis, victims whose desired course changes to 500 when their exams resulted in 490, or whose neglect of one paragraph the night before costs them a 15 mark question. When juxtaposed to the British method; the A-Levels, our path for education seems to inhabit a lot more build-up ie impatience and panic, whereas the A-Levels, marked similarly to continuous assessment, seems to be divided into bite-sized stages that lead you up the path to victory. Upon reflection, it is difficult to select a preference between the two, as continuous assessment does not really accommodate slip-ups or even illnesses. Slip-up on the day of the Leaving Cert, you’ll know not to repeat for the next exam. Get struck down by an ailment during June, then you’re just extremely unfortunate.
Nevertheless, the most daunting element of the exams is the unpredicatability, especially prior to the release of the results. Most assume it can go two ways, and only one is the route to glory. The other, especially on the day of the dreaded life-altering envelopes, can mean the apocalypse, at least for 24 hours.