The development and enactment of high-stakes assessment in Ireland: Leaving Certificate Physical Education

Year: 2019

Author: Scanlon, Dylan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Background: Irish post-primary students complete post-primary education (typically aged 15 - 17 years old) by undertaking Leaving Certificate examinations, a set of summative and terminal end-of-year examinations. Leaving Certificate Physical Education (LCPE), a certificated examinable physical education subject in a high-stakes environment, was introduced in Irish post-primary schools in September 2018.This is the first time formal assessment has been a requirement of physical education in Ireland. LCPE constitutes three assessment components; a physical activity project (20%), a performance assessment (30%) and a written examination (50%).

Research design: This presentation will draw on ongoing studies with teachers teaching LCPE and students studying LCPE. The perspectives of the two respective populations are tracked throughout the first year of LCPE through semi-structured interviews and focus groups interviews. The presentation will share the realities of teaching examinable physical education from the teachers’ perspective and the individual and collective experiences of the students from their perspective.

Findings and discussion: Given the delayed publication of the assessment guidelines for the three assessment components of LCPE, teachers struggled with teaching to the specification learning outcomes. In particularly, knowing how to judge the depth in which to engage with each learning outcome was a specific challenge. The students wholeheartedly supported the practical/performance assessment components and particularly the formative nature of such assessments through the use of digital technologies.

Implications: These ‘new’ forms of assessments in physical education at school level in Ireland raises implications for teacher education programmes in preparing pre-service teachers to facilitate these types of assessments for post-primary students.