Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Junior Certificate Examiner's Report

The report by the Department of Education's chief examiner on the 2006 Junior Certificate English exam is now online here. Sean Flynn, education editor, writes about the report on the front page of the Irish Times today, commenting that "the emergence of the mobile phone and the rise of text messaging poses a significant threat to writing standards in English, according to the chief examiner."

And : "The popularity of text messaging may also explain the penchant among the Junior Cert students for short, sharp answers with little elaboration. The examiner complains how many candidates were 'choosing to answer sparingly, even minimally, rather than seeing questions as invitations to explore the territory they had studied and to express the breadth and depth of their learning and understanding.'"

The report also includes in an Appendix the list of most popular texts studied for the literature paper at Higher Level and states : "Work presented for examination is almost certainly a mere sample of what is more widely met in the classroom. Nevertheless, the dominance of two Shakespearian texts, Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice (85.4%) and of one modern text, The Field (71.7%), combined with similarly narrow – even if less striking – options across Poetry and Fiction, raises the question of whether the inclusive aspirations of the syllabus – as a vehicle for the promotion of broadly grounded personal, social and cultural literacy – are being best met at this level." By far the most popular novel is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

This appendix (page 77 on) lists by percentage the fiction, drama and poetry being studied across the country. The poetry list is dominated by the early work of Seamus Heaney -
Mid Term Break : Seamus Heaney : 18.2%
Dulce et Decorum Est : Wilfred Owen : 17.0%
The Lake Isle of Innisfree : W B Yeats : 14.2%
He Wishes for the Cloths : W B Yeats : 8.0%
The Daffodils : William Wordsworth : 5.1%
Digging : Seamus Heaney : 5.1%
The Early Purges : Seamus Heaney : 4.5%
Base Details : Siegfried Sassoon : 4.0%
Blackberry Picking : Seamus Heaney : 2.8%
Epic : Patrick Kavanagh : 2.8%

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