CORONAVIRUS

No learner left behind as exams begin at Kilkenny's Ormonde College

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

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Students have begun exams at Ormonde College in Kilkenny, with procedures and structures in place to ensure no learner is left behind.

The college has developed assessment contingency plans for examinations, and teachers have devised assessment instruments suitable to an 'open book' style format. The learners will complete these examinations from home.  

"The new format assesses the same learning outcomes as the original exam but rather than relying on recall and reproduction of information they require the learners to relate theory to practice (on work experience for example)," says Deputy Principal of Ormonde College John Kavanagh.

"They are required to evaluate and make arguments for one opinion or another and/or to read case studies and provide responses as to how they would deal with these hypothetical situation."

Exams became available on the college's online learning platform, Moodle, yesterday (Thursday) morning with deadlines for submission for each examination.

Mr Kavanagh says the policy is to be generous with this, cognisant that not everyone can ringfence a specific time. Some learners may have small children at home, and some are in the frontline services in healthcare and retail.

"In preparation for this, we've spent two weeks ensuring that every learner has access to moodle," he said.

"For a handful who didn't, due to broadband issues, we have organised alternative plans. Our approach was that no learner was to be left behind.

"We also ensured that those that needed special accomodations such as a reader or a scribe, were able to employ 'natural supports' in the form of a family member.  In some cases, learners will do their exams orally via Zoom. Teachers organised preparation tutorials via Teams and Zoom over Easter.  

"We are very mindful of preserving the integrity of the examination. All submissions have to be accompanied by a signed declaration that no malpractice (copying and pasting) was employed.

The phrasing of questions makes it more profitable for a candidate to provide their own analysis, opinion and evaluation rather than copying and pasting. Reference to notes etc is permitted but must be referenced.

The college has submitted its contingency plan through the QA department of our ETB and taken all the necesaary steps to be compliant with quality assurance guidelines on assessment from the certification body (predominantly QQI).