Early School Leavers: Reform of the Junior Certificate, Educational Achievement and Employment Chances
Damian F. Hannan
This report reports the main results of analyses of the likely impact of the introduction of ?Foundation? levels in the Junior Certificate examination in 1992 on school leavers? educational achievements and employment chances one year after they had completed their second level education. By comparing the results of regression analyses of the effects of basic ?passing? on the educational achievement and employment outcomes amongst two cohorts of schools leavers ? 1991+1992 versus 1993+1994 ? we attempt to test for the effects of passing grades achieved, incorporating the new ? Foundation? levels, on employment chances. We estimate whether these employment effects are significantly smaller than similar minimum ?passing grades? in the preceding Intermediate/Group Certificate examinations, before Foundation levels had been introduced. Our preliminary results show that despite increased unemployment rates in 1993/1994, securing a ?passing? grade (5 Ds) in the Junior Certificate examination ? one grade of which at least was at Foundation level ? grade as high a ?rate of return? in employment chances as had equivalent grades in the preceding (1991/1992 school leavers) ?ordinary? or ?general? levels in the Intermediate/Group Certificate examinations. Consequently, it would appear that employers have accepted the validity of the new level/grades system and treated it equivalently to the preceding one. However, sample sizes of those with such basic junior cycle ?passing? grades are very small so these results should be treated with some caution.
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