This is the crucial one:
Despite assertions from commentators that the Junior Certificate is low status, the fact is that it is valued by students, parents, and teachers. It encourages students to develop goal-setting skills, it motivates students at the mid-point of their second-level education, and it offers students an important objective guide as they enter the senior cycle.Irwin says the exam is valued by parents. I don't think so. It's seen as inevitable, rarely questioned, but not valued. How do I know? Try asking a parent - any parent of a second level student - if they'd be happy if their child left school after getting a good Junior Cert. Yeah? Didn't think so.
So what's the value in it? Well, Irwin tries to deflect us from the fact that the certificate itself has no value with his drivel about goal-setting and motivating students.
The goal-setting and motivation is almost entirely driven by the teachers. If they can inspire that sort of effort for a meaningless state exam, why can't they do it for a school exam? Why do we need an expensive state run system to motivate?
The only potential value in the Junior Cert is the one that the ASTI and the TUI would resist manfully: to expose those teachers who are doing a terrible job; to ensure that those teachers don't teach at the higher, meaningful Leaving Cert level.
So seeing as that isn't part of the package then what on Earth is so important about the Junior Cert? It's valueless to employers; it's a source of unnecessary stress for students (& their parents) and expensive to the state.
The lesson to be learned is this: the Junior Cert is a relic from another era.