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WHAT'S THE POINT: EVALUATING THE IMPACT OF THE BONUS POINTS INITIATIVE FOR MATHEMATICS

Niamh O'Meara; Mark Prendergast; Paraic Treacy

Since 2012 mathematics has been assigned a special status within Irish post-primary education with the introduction of a Bonus Points initiative (BPI). Students are now awarded an extra 25 CAO points in their upper post-primary school state examination results if they achieve a passing grade at higher-level. These extra points will increase the likelihood of these students getting a place on the course of their choice at third level. This incentive was introduced to encourage students to study the subject at higher-level. Anecdotally there have been many mixed reviews about the success of the BPI. While the numbers taking HL mathematics have steadily increased, there have been concerns expressed that many students who are not mathematically capable of performing up to the standard required are now opting for the HL paper and that the difficulty of this examination and the marking schemes have been adjusted accordingly (Treacy, 2018). This paper reports on a national study, the first of its kind in Ireland, that was conducted to investigate teachers’ perspectives (n = 266) on the BPI. The authors will 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 post-primary students and will ascertain the impact of the BPI on the profile of higher-level mathematics classes. It will report on findings from a national study.

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