National newspaper-reporting on state examinations: An historical exposition of the exceptional case of the Irish Leaving Certificate

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Tom O'Donoghue Jim Gleeson Orla McCormack

Abstract

During a post-independence phase (1922-mid-sixties), Irish secondary schooling was characterised by low participation rates, elitism, and careerist perceptions of students. Phase two (1967-mid 1980s) saw participation rates expand dramatically as Ireland became more open and industrialised, and policymakers focused on relationships between education, human capital and economic development. During this phase, the Irish Times began to include careers and examinations information. With school completion rates continuing to increase from the mid-1980s (phase three), the two main daily newspapers realised that the growing need for information about access to an increasingly complex and highly-prized higher education system, which was dependent on academic achievement, afforded an opportunity to boost sales and advertising. In response, examinations’ coverage reached a level recently described as ‘exceptional by a team of researchers from the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment and Queen’s University Belfast.  


 


 

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Special Feature