Examiner shortage arises just weeks before leaving certificate

The State Examination Commission is facing a shortfall in applications from teachers seeking to work as examiners in all subjects just weeks before the Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert exams begin.

The commission recently ramped up a recruitment drive to highlight the increased qualification fees for teachers this year.

However, teachers’ union sources say the combination of a “grueling” academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fiscal rules and limited opportunities for travel expenses may be affecting the number of teachers available.

All qualified teachers are eligible to apply for examiner positions and successful candidates are selected based on their experience and qualifications in teaching and assessment.

The commission has launched an “earn, learn and understand” recruiting campaign that highlights increased proofing rates for jobs, as well as the professional benefits of participating in proofing.

The increased fees mean teachers can earn €150 for 25 Leaving Cert scripts and €75 for 25 Junior Cycle scripts.

The commission says this represents an additional €6 per script at the Leaving Cert level, an increase of up to 50 per cent depending on the theme and level marked.

In Junior Cycle the highest rates amount to €3 extra per script, an increase of up to 57 percent depending on the subject and the level marked.

A spokesman for the commission said that teachers are the “vital element of the national examination system” and it relies on their participation in the grading of the examinations so that it can fulfill its main function.

“We are continuing to recruit examiners to mark the work of students taking the Leaving Certificate, Leaving Certificate Applied and Junior Cycle exams this summer,” he said.

“Before Covid, there were difficulties in ensuring that teachers applied for exam roles in the number required and this year we have a shortfall in the number of applications for exam roles in all subjects. This year, with the increase in applications, a greater number of examiners is required”.

He said the commission will continue to encourage all teachers to consider becoming examiners and “undertake this vital work in the 2022 state exams.”

The supply of examiners may also influence how quickly Leaving Cert exams can be marked, education watchers say.

Speculation

A date for the publication of the Leaving Cert results and the CAO university offers has not yet been announced, although there is speculation that it may be later than the traditional date of mid-August.

A spokesman for the commission said there were additional challenges this year due to uncertainty over the volume of students who can take deferred exams and the government’s decision that overall Leaving Cert results “will not be lower” than last year.

“The date of issuance of the results must take into account these additional challenges. Sufficient time must also be allowed for the range of quality assurance checks and procedures that are required in the resulting process to ensure the highest possible standards are maintained,” he said.

Higher and Continuing Education Minister Simon Harris said on Wednesday that clarity on the date of the results was “urgently” needed.

While he said he appreciated the challenges facing the commission, he said students and families were trying to plan for the summer and student housing, while universities were trying to plan for the new academic year.

“Students need clarity, their families need clarity, and colleges need clarity,” he said,

The shortage of examiners is also likely to spark a debate about the sustainability of externally assessed state examinations, especially in the context of planned upper-cycle reforms.

While secondary teachers’ unions insist the Leaving Cert should remain an externally assessed exam, Education Minister Norma Foley has proposed changes that would mean teachers assess up to 40 per cent of student grades. .

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