What's the point? Impact of Ireland's bonus points initiative on student profile in mathematics classrooms

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O'Meara, Niamh
Prendergast, Mark
Treacy, Páraic
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Western Australian Institutes for Educational Research
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In 2012 mathematics was assigned a special status within the Irish post-primary school curriculum with the introduction of a bonus points initiative (BPI). Students are now awarded additional credit in their upper post-primary school state examination results if they achieve a passing grade in mathematics at higher level. This extra credit will increase the likelihood of these students securing a place on the third-level course of their choice. This incentive was introduced to encourage students to study mathematics at higher level. Anecdotally there have been mixed reviews about the success of the BPI. While the numbers taking higher level mathematics have increased steadily, there have been concerns that many students who are not capable of performing up to the standard required are now opting for the higher level paper and the difficulty of this examination and the marking schemes have been adjusted accordingly. This paper reports on a national study, the first of its kind, that was conducted to investigate teachersâ perspectives (N = 266) on the BPI. The authors investigate if the increase in the number of students studying higher level mathematics in Ireland has occurred in tandem with an increase in the mathematical proficiency of students and they ascertain the impact of the BPI on the profile of higher level mathematics classes.
Mathematics , Bonus points initiative , Ireland , Post-primary school curriculum
O'Meara, N., Prendergast, M. and Treacy, P. (2020) 'What's the point? Impact of Ireland's bonus points initiative on student profile in mathematics classrooms', Issues in Educational Research, 30(4), pp. 1418-1441. Available at: http://www.iier.org.au/iier30/omeara-abs.html (Accessed: 14 May 2021)
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© 2020, the Authors. Published by Western Australian Institutes for Educational Research.