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Government drops plans for teacher-based assessment of Leaving Cert, blaming AI

There will be changes to the Leaving Cert introduced in 2025.

EDUCATION MINISTER NORMA Foley has postponed plans to introduce teacher-based assessment for the Leaving Cert, blaming Artificial Intelligence for the move.

In a statement this morning, Foley announced that her department was accelerating changes to the Leaving Cert Cycle, with the rollout of nine new and revised subjects coming two years earlier than planned.

Each of these will incorporate continuous assessment elements that are not a written exam.

However, Foley said that teacher-based assessment would not be included in the reforms, saying that first research needed conducted into the impact generative AI (like ChatGPT) was having on the education system.

“I am particularly conscious of the more recent accelerated evolution and growth in generative AI, and I understand there is a need to explore the opportunities afforded by these developments in an educational context, as well as the challenges they might present,” she said.

“With that in mind I have asked the SEC that further research would be commissioned on the potential role and impact of generative artificial intelligence in teacher-based assessment in particular.”

ChatGPT is an online chatbot that can respond to users’ prompts and queries with detailed information. It could potentially be used, for example, to generate essays or answers to questions.

Teacher-based assessment

Teacher-based assessment was to form a significant part of the reforms, when they were first announced in early 2022.

It was announced in March 2022 that following the reforms traditional Leaving Cert exams will be worth just 60% of students’ final results. The remaining 40% were to be made up of teacher-based assessments.

However, the plans were rejected by teachers’ unions, with claims that it would add to teachers’ workload and fundamentally alter the teacher-student relationship.

Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) voted overwhelmingly in April of this year in favour of balloting for industrial action if asked to mark their own students’ papers, RTÉ News reported.

The same month, Foley said that plans for teacher-based assessment were still on the table.

“I recognise too that change is never comfortable, change brings challenge, but I think the bottom line here is that it is in the best interests of students,” she said at the time.


Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Foley said that further research needed to be done into the impacts of generative AI.

“I believe in terms of education, we can harness it for the positive. I’m also aware that there are challenges with it in terms of education, and not unique to education,” she said.

So I have tasked the State Examinations Commission to do [a] body of work, and that will inform how we can move forward with this single component around teacher-based assessment.
Foley denied that she had done a U-turn on the issue.
“I had a choice that was very clear to sit on my hands and do nothing in terms of senior cycle reform, and wait until this body of work was completed by the State Examinations Commission… that would not have been in the best interest of students.”
She also denied that plans for teacher-based assessment had been dropped entirely. 
“I have I’ve always said that we will work with with staff. we will work with teachers, but they have to be suitably confident, they have to be suitably trained, particularly in the area of AI. I need the time now to do that,” she said.
New subjects
As part of the reforms, from 2025 Leaving Cert students will see changes to subjects such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Business.
Two new subjects -Drama, Film and Theatre Studies, and Climate Action and Sustainable Development – will also be introduced.

There will also be a second tranche of revised subjects in 2026, with further changes to be brought in annually after that.

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