Just 10,435 students have registered to undertake the higher-level maths Leaving Cert exam this week, the lowest figure ever recorded by the State Exams Commission.
The figures may drop below the record low of 8,388 in 2007, as one in five students drop down from higher-level to ordinary-level maths on the day of the exam, this Friday. The State Exams Commission recorded 10,457 higher-level maths students in 2007 prior to the exam.
The drop highlights growing concerns for students with strong maths skills necessary to boost the IT and engineering sectors. OECD figures revealed that Ireland fell from 16th to 26th place in regards to maths skills among teenage students in participating countries.
A number of initiatives have been put in place to counter the low uptake in higher-level maths, such as Project Maths, a new approach to Leaving Cert maths that involves a problem-solving approach that combines critical thinking and mathematics. It’s now being rolled out on a pilot basis in 24 schools.
This year, among those schools, 21pc are registered to take higher-level in Project Maths, though this may drop on the morning of the exam.
From 2012 onwards, all seven universities in Ireland will give bonus points for higher-level maths in the Leaving Cert, giving them 25 extra points for a D grade or higher.
The Leaving Cert will begin tomorrow across almost 4,750 exam centres with 55,550 students taking the exams.