Concerns Over AI Impact on Leaving Certificate Assessment Delay Reforms


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  • Education Minister Foley delays Leaving Cert reforms due to AI concerns, emphasizes importance of AI in education.
  • Teachers’ Union of Ireland supports external assessment to maintain public trust, welcomes Minister’s decision.
  • Accelerated introduction of new subjects while AI-related concerns are addressed in Leaving Certificate assessment.

In a recent announcement regarding the Senior Cycle Redevelopment program, Education Minister Norma Foley has delayed aspects of the Leaving Certificate reforms due to concerns about the potential impact of generative artificial intelligence (AI) on teacher-based assessment. Foley cited the accelerated evolution and growth in generative AI and its need for exploration within the educational context. While emphasizing the importance of both opportunities and challenges presented by AI, she has asked the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to conduct further research into the role and impact of generative artificial intelligence in teacher-based assessment.

Stakeholder engagement and considerations

Minister Foley’s decision comes after two years of engagement with various stakeholders, including students, parents, and teachers. She expressed her awareness that generative AI has rapidly evolved, making it necessary to assess its potential implications on teacher-based assessments in the Leaving Certificate.

External assessment components

During the ongoing research and development phase, Minister Foley has chosen to proceed with additional practical components that the SEC will assess externally. These components are designed to ensure a fair and reliable assessment process while addressing AI-related concerns.

Acknowledging the AI era in education

Minister Foley highlighted that artificial intelligence has become an integral part of today’s world and emphasized the need to harness its positive aspects for educational purposes. She acknowledged that challenges exist but expressed optimism about leveraging AI in education.

Welcoming the announcement: Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI)

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) welcomed Minister Foley’s announcement. TUI General Secretary Michael Gillespie emphasized the importance of retaining State certification as a key element in all developments. TUI members have consistently opposed assessing their students for State certificate purposes, underlining the necessity of external assessment and State certification to maintain public trust in the examination process.

Confidence and training for teachers

Addressing concerns about teacher buy-in and readiness, Minister Foley clarified that teachers would need to be suitably confident and trained before they could participate in assessing Leaving Certificate examinations. She stressed the importance of acquiring necessary information and providing adequate time for training.

Accelerated reforms and new subjects

While some aspects of Leaving Certificate reform have been delayed, others have been accelerated. Students will gain access to nine new and revised subjects by 2025, two years ahead of the original plan. These subjects include biology, physics, chemistry, and business. Additionally, two new subjects, drama, film, theatre studies, climate action, and sustainable development, will be introduced. Further tranches of revised subjects will follow annually.

Minister Norma Foley’s decision to delay certain elements of the Leaving Certificate reforms demonstrates a proactive approach to addressing concerns related to AI’s impact on teacher-based assessment. As Ireland continues to navigate the evolving landscape of education in the AI era, stakeholders can anticipate a balanced and considered approach to ensure the fairness and reliability of the Leaving Certificate assessment process.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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