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18-08-2012, 16:25   #61
djpbarry
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The examiners were told to go "soft" on marking them.
And yet the number of A1's awarded dropped?
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18-08-2012, 17:13   #62
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In relation to A1's Yes but the thread is about the number of people failing maths. I also believe it has something to do with them making them easier
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18-08-2012, 17:43   #63
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And yet the number of A1's awarded dropped?
They manipulated the marking scheme so that more people would pass the subject and project maths would be considered a success.

People are no better than they were at maths before, the new course is an unorganized joke which has wasted a lot of money.
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18-08-2012, 17:43   #64
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And pigs learn to fly in one year
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19-08-2012, 00:36   #65
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I seem to remember complaints last year about how difficult the maths paper was which some believed was an effort to make this year's project maths results appear successful in comparison.

I downloaded the project maths paper and found it pretty simple for higher-level. Lots of statistics and propability. Maybe the other paper was more difficult.

On paper it's a good sign that more students are doing maths just as it is a good sign on paper that we have so many third level graduates. In reality, it's entirely self-defeating if the standard of work isn't high.
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19-08-2012, 00:54   #66
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People are no better than they were at maths before, the new course is an unorganized joke which has wasted a lot of money.
If we assume that the exam and marking scheme are as difficult as last year it still doesn't follow that results should be the same, as the previous year's best ordinary level students would have sat higher level this year.
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19-08-2012, 20:25   #67
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Grades in Maths are not subjective.
Are the grades not dependent on the marking scheme?
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The vast majority o the paper requires correct answers.
That's not true - one could get the answer to every single question wrong, but still emerge with a good grade.
Ye they are dependent on the scheme but surely you understand that the scheme is base on correct strategies and answers?

As for your second point you can only get good grades with mathematically valid attempts and answers. I take you point though about not needing correct answers to get marks.
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19-08-2012, 22:24   #68
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The examiners were told to go "soft" on marking them.
Basically Politics is now interfering with our education system.
It would look bad if the governments new pet project didn't do well eh?
Source?

Because if you don't even have a source for this, let alone proof, you are just some guy making baseless accusations on an internet forum, and can't really expect anyone to lend this any credibility.
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20-08-2012, 01:21   #69
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Here's a link to a short analysis of the change done by a guy I know. It seems that the change only benefits a small number of people who would've done HL maths anyway
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20-08-2012, 09:57   #70
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In relation to A1's Yes but the thread is about the number of people failing maths. I also believe it has something to do with them making them easier
Do you have anything to support this belief or is it just an assumption? The absolute number of failures at higher level hasn’t actually changed all that much.
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They manipulated the marking scheme so that more people would pass the subject and project maths would be considered a success.
See above – roughly the same number of people failed the exam as last year. What’s more, the total number of failures across all levels is still pretty high. If there was some covert initiative to ensure as many passes in maths as possible, it was an epic failure (no pun intended).
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People are no better than they were at maths before...
People are not born with innate mathematical ability. Becoming mathematically literate requires a lot of hard work – it is essentially no different to learning a foreign language, in my opinion. The simplest explanation for the observed increase in honours awarded in maths is an increase in the work put in by students. This makes sense in the current economic climate – getting any kind of degree and then walking into the jobs market to make shed loads of money was a possibility 5-10 years ago, but not anymore. In these more competitive times, being mathematically literate confers a big advantage.
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21-08-2012, 18:42   #71
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Do you have anything to support this belief or is it just an assumption? The absolute number of failures at higher level hasn’t actually changed all that much.
I don't have any links to anything if that is what you mean, but I have classmates who were almost certain they had failed. They said themselves that they answered questions poorly and left some questions unanswered. I know one person after reviewing the paper, came to the conclusion that there was no way he'd have passed. However he got his D3 on results day. He was not the only one who got a pleasant surprise.


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See above – roughly the same number of people failed the exam as last year.
The numbers stayed the same, but failure levels have fallen by 20%, you said it yourself in your initial post.

I don't know if you are familiar with the new course (project maths), but it has come under a lot criticism. Schools weren't given enough information about the new paper 2, not many official sample papers were given out. I believe that a lot of people performed quite poorly in the exam and the marking scheme was manipulated so that record numbers would not fail.

You do realize that when exams are being corrected that a draft marking scheme is applied to a random sample of scripts. The marking schemes are finalized and often adjusted after the random sampling.
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21-08-2012, 21:58   #72
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The government are making some good decisions though.

They are looking at trialling jump Math which is worth looking up which would be a big change to the way Math is taught in our schools in fairness and probably for the better if the existing results of the courses students are to be believed.
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22-08-2012, 10:45   #73
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I don't have any links to anything if that is what you mean, but I have classmates who were almost certain they had failed.
So you know a few people who thought they failed, but emerged with a D, and now you think there’s a big conspiracy?
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The numbers stayed the same, but failure levels have fallen by 20%, you said it yourself in your initial post.
Failure rates have fallen because the number of people sitting the exam increased dramatically. It is not unreasonable to assume that a lot of people who passed the higher paper this year would have sat the ordinary level paper in previous years.
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I don't know if you are familiar with the new course (project maths), but it has come under a lot criticism.
It has come under some criticism, as any new syllabus inevitably will. However, I am very much under the impression that the move to modernise how maths is taught in Ireland has been broadly welcomed.
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You do realize that when exams are being corrected that a draft marking scheme is applied to a random sample of scripts. The marking schemes are finalized and often adjusted after the random sampling.
I’ve already said that marking schemes are somewhat subjective by nature? If a draft marking scheme resulted in an abnormally high number of A1s, would you not expect it to be revised?

Your argument for grade manipulation essentially boils down to your opinion that grade manipulation has taken place and you’re know seeking evidence to support this preconception. A few students performing better than they thought they did is not exactly Earth-shattering and if this is the sum total of your evidence, I would be inclined to dismiss your argument.
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22-08-2012, 12:10   #74
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Interesting discussion.

My position is that I'm skeptical about this "dramatic" improvement — and I'll attempt to outline why.

Student achievement in maths has become a hugely political issue in which teachers, their unions, and the government are all deeply implicated. As Ireland's housing bust, weakened domestic economy, and soaring unemployment rates renewed our dependence on science/tech-oriented investment and exports, the government reinvigorated its efforts to advertise the country abroad as an investment-friendly knowledge economy with that key element (so oft-repeated that it has become a cliché): a "highly-educated, English-speaking workforce." But it had to deal with the fact that prominent multinational corporations such as Google and Intel had began vocally and publicly criticizing Irish educational standards, especially in crucial STEM subjects, but also in foreign languages and even in basic communications skills. It's not good for business to have market-leading companies effectively accusing the government of misrepresenting the caliber of its country's workforce. The government, with the IMF breathing down its neck over growth figures, desperately wants to see such concerns assuaged.

For their part, Irish teachers (bolstered by their unions) continue to defend their entitlement to some of the highest teaching salaries and shortest working hours in the world. They have been embarrassed in recent years by reports that 25 percent of primary-level maths lessons are not taught to a satisfactory standard (per a 2010 Department of Education report), by findings that half of the country's post-primary maths teachers do not have an appropriate degree qualification to teach the subject (per a 2010 University of Limerick study), and by the fact that Ireland has been tumbling down the the OCED's literacy and numeracy rankings faster than any other country (PISA 2009 ranks Ireland 26th out of 34 countries for maths ability). With people asking hard questions about why demonstrably underperforming and underqualified teachers should merit having their world-beating wages protected by the Croke Park Agreement, we have to admit the possibility, if not the probability, that teachers subconsciously or intentionally saw how higher grades could work to their advantage and marked accordingly. Remember, it is the teachers themselves who mark the Leaving Certificate exam (an atrocious system, in my opinion).

The Leaving Cert has suffered from documented grade inflation since the early 1990s. In 2010, the State Examination Commission, in documents prepared for the Department of Education, noted that the proportions of A1, A2, and B1 grades awarded at higher level had more than doubled between 1992 and 2009 (43 percent of the higher-level papers graded in 2009 received A or B grades, compared with 21 percent in 1992). So it's not as if Leaving Cert grades are static and unchanging. A B1 achieved in 1996 is not equivalent to a B1 achieved in 2008 — higher grades are awarded over time for an equivalent (or lower) standard of work.

When it comes to the maths curriculum, the higher-level syllabus was changed (i.e., made easier) in the early 1990s with the express ambition of more than doubling the numbers sitting higher-level maths to 25 percent of all candidates. That desired figure of 25 percent was never attained, but the numbers did rapidly increase, from 11.3 percent of candidates in 1993 to 18.1 percent in 1997, before falling back to around 15-16 percent during the 2000s. In response to the recent spate of criticism over falling maths standards, former Minister for Education Batt O'Keefe launched Project Maths, which to many people only represents a further dumbing down of the curriculum. It's a fact that the Department of Education has historically been quite happy to make the maths syllabus less challenging, and exam questions easier and more predictable, so as accommodate politicians' desire for more people earning higher grades in HL maths. This, alas, is what happens when the Minister for Education sits next to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation in Cabinet.

However, the changing face of Irish maths education has not gone unremarked — and the Chief Examiner's Report into Higher-Level Maths (2005) voiced some pointed criticisms about the direction in which Irish maths education was going:

Quote:
It would be remiss not to express the concerns of the examining teams that there has been a noticeable slippage over a relatively short period of time in the quality of work being presented by the cohort at [higher] level. In particular, two aspects of the work cause concern. Firstly, the examining team on paper 1 reports that the candidates appear to be less comfortable than before with the basics of algebraic manipulation that form the foundation for the more substantive work involved at this level.

Secondly, examiners have been commenting on a noticeable decline in the capacity of candidates to engage with problems that are not of a routine and well-rehearsed type. Whereas in the relatively recent past it was common to see two, three, or more attempts at a problem with which a candidate was struggling, it is now more common to see the work abandoned after the first attempt fails to yield rapid success. Also more prevalent is the inclination of quite good candidates to not even attempt parts of questions that do not resemble well rehearsed examples from class. This is not caused by difficulties with the time available, as evidenced by the fact that there has been an increase in the number of surplus questions attempted. This diminution in the level of perseverance was first identified in the Chief Examiner’s Report of 2000, and has continued unabated. That is, there is evidence of an ongoing decline in the candidates’ willingness to struggle for success.

A further concern also deserves mention. Although related to the previous points, it can hardly be described as new. As identified in various previous Chief Examiners’ reports, candidates’ conceptual understanding of the mathematics they have studied is inferior to that which one would hope for and expect at this level. Whereas procedural competence continues
to be adequate, any question that requires the candidates to display a good understanding of the concepts underlying these procedures causes unwarranted levels of difficulty.
In short, by 2005, according to the Chief Examiner, the quality of higher-level students' work had declined notably, students were giving up easily when faced with questions that were not routine and well-rehearsed, and their conceptual understanding of mathematics was well below the expected standard.

It's clear what students and their teachers want: formulaic exams in which well-rehearsed "procedural competence" can guarantee a decent grade. Problems that require a deep conceptual understanding of the underlying mathematics throw this approach into turmoil. Does anyone remember the furor over Paper I from the HL Leaving Cert 2011 last year? Students emerged enraged that they had not been served up a handy menu of predictably formulaic questions—even though anyone who had a decent conceptual grasp of HL maths would not have found the questions all that difficult.

This year, by contrast, students and teachers alike smiled and told RTÉ cameras that there had been "no surprises." That translates to, "Fair play, lads! Everyone will do well this year because they got exactly the kinds of predictable questions they were prepared to answer."

Now, I'll certainly acknowledge that we're not in the boom years anymore, and that students' motivations have changed. Gone are the days when any old Arts degree could land one a plum job in a bank or in the public sector — and when, if one didn't have a degree, one could earn the equivalent of a professional salary pushing a wheelbarrow around on a building site. With 30 percent of young people now unemployed, and with well-paying jobs difficult to find, there's a definite incentive to work harder in school and pursue a more challenging degree. As a consequence, young people are taking their educations more seriously, and this will naturally lead to academic improvements.

However, it's extremely difficult, given political circumstances that give politicians, unions, and teachers themselves every incentive to "jigger the stats," to make any definitive pronouncements, based on Leaving Cert results alone, about whether the actual (as opposed no nominal) standard of maths is getting better, getting worse, or going sideways. We should note, for example, that even as nominal Leaving Cert grades have gone up since 2000, Ireland's mathematics scores in PISA have plummeted to significantly below the OECD average. Personally, I'd be much more inclined to accept a benchmark such as PISA that isn't so vulnerable to internal manipulation by Irish vested interests.

Last edited by Permabear; 24-08-2012 at 10:24.
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22-08-2012, 12:37   #75
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Does anyone remember the furor over Paper I from the HL Leaving Cert 2011 last year? Students emerged enraged that they had not been served up a handy menu of predictably formulaic questions, even though anyone who had a decent conceptual grasp of HL maths would not have found the questions all that difficult.
Doesn’t that kind of contradict your argument? Why would the maths paper suddenly become more difficult if high grades are the aim?
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This year, by contrast, students and teachers alike smiled and told RTE cameras that there had been "no surprises."
Once again, the reaction that I have read has been decidedly mixed.
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We should note, for example, that even as nominal Leaving Cert grades have gone up since 2000, Ireland's mathematics scores in PISA have plummeted.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the average grade obtained in leaving cert maths has declined in tandem with Ireland’s PISA and OECD ranking?
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