Revision No: 1 / Date: Feb. 2013
POLICY ON ASSESSMENT
Assessment Committee: M. Loughnane, B. Hensey, P. Mangan, Fr. Pat, J. Keane, M. O’Carroll, F. Kealey, M. Horan, E. Fleury, P. Crowley, B. Lavin, S. Lombard, L. Nugent, M. McIntyre, F. Mahon, T. Hannon, S. Durack
Approved By: Staff
The following Policy on Assessment applies to our Whole-School Community.
Relationship to School Mission Statement
‘Our aim is to create a caring community of learning where each individual is valued as a unique human being’. Assessment encourages the practice of accountability towards student learning and individual development.
Assessment is an integral part of the Education Process. Assessment practices should inform and empower students’ learning. ‘We need to ensure teachers use assessment to inform their practice and monitor learning.’ Department of Education and Skills (2011, p. 74)
Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers 2012 published by the Teaching Council of Ireland provides the objectives for Assessment under Professional Practice and Professional Collegiality. Teachers should:
Maintain high standards of practice in relation to pupil/student learning, planning, monitoring, assessing, reporting and providing feedback
Apply their knowledge and experience in facilitating pupils’/students’ holistic development
Plan communicate clear, challenging and achievable expectations for pupils/students
Create an environment where pupils/students can become active agents in the learning process and develop lifelong learning skills
Develop teaching, learning and assessment strategies that support differentiated learning in a way that respects the dignity of all pupil/students
Engage with the planning, implementation and evaluation of the Curriculum at classroom and school level
Work with teaching colleagues in the interests of sharing, developing and supporting good practice and maintaining the highest quality of educational experiences for pupils/students
Assessment of Learning provides a summary of what the student has achieved at fixed points, such as at the end of the academic year. Examples include tests and exams.
Assessment for Learning is formative. It acknowledges that information gained from assessment activities can be used to shape the teaching and learning process. Examples include shared target setting (learning outcomes), questioning, constructive feedback (marking and oral), peer and self-assessment. ‘Assessment for learning is embedded in everyday classroom practice.’ Department of Education and Skills (2012, p. 45)
‘We need to combine good assessment for learning practice with appropriate assessment of learning approaches.’ Department of Education and Skills (2011, p. 74) ‘Teachers should base their judgements about the progress pupils are making on different sources of evidence, including conversations with the learner, an analysis of the learner’s own self-assessment, the teacher’s observations of the learner’s engagement with tasks, test scores, examples of students’ work and written, oral and practical examinations.’
Roles and Responsibilities
The purpose of Assessment according to the SDPI (2005) is to:
Inform students on their progress
Report to parents
Plan future classroom activities
While teachers and students are responsible for cultivating assessment for learning to inform their educational practice, teachers, schools and the State Exams Commission are responsible for administering Assessment of Learning. In its publication Literacy and Numeracy for Learning and Life: The National Strategy to Improve Literacy and Learning among Children and Young People 2011-2020, the Department of Education and Skills advise that ‘Schools should use assessment information to inform Self-Evaluation and School Improvement Plans.’ From 2015 all schools shall be required to ‘report to parents (through written school reports and parent-teacher interviews) in clear terms about the progress their child is making (using information from a range of assessment approaches including the outcomes of standardised assessment tests and how their child is progressing compared to national norms).’ (2011, pp. 78-81) Furthermore within School Self-Evaluation Guidelines for Post-Primary Schools, the Inspectorate advises that a school with significant strengths ensures that ‘Whole-school analysis of the results in the state examinations is undertaken and the results of this analysis inform teaching and learning.’ (2012, p.45) All forms of assessment should take ‘due account of subject syllabuses, the NCCA guidelines and the National Strategy for Literacy and Numeracy.’ (2012, p.39)
For the purpose of reporting, the timing and modes of assessment should reflect the nature of a student’s studies. For example Leaving Certificate Applied assessment encompasses Key Assignments, Tasks and a Reflective Journal. Similarly in Transition Year reporting to parents/guardians occurs at the end of each module. In First Year, Second Year and Fifth Year reporting typically occurs at the end of the First Term and the Summer Term. In Third Year and Sixth Year reporting of assessment occurs after their October House Exams and their Pre-State Exams. It should be noted that Parent/Guardian-Teacher Meetings provide a valuable forum to discuss student performance that includes assessment of and for learning.
Assessment of Learning
First Year students enjoy a Taster Module during September and October to sample the full range of subjects available at St. Brendan’s Community School. This enables them to make an informed decision about their chosen course of study for Junior Cycle. As a result First Year students are not formally assessed until they commence their chosen course of study, with the exception of core subjects Irish, English and Maths. The Irish and Mathematics Departments adopt a strategy of continuous assessment during First Year. Four Common Tests are administered producing a weighted mean representative of the student’s performance during the year. This data is used to differentiate students into ability groupings from Second Year. The English Department conduct standardised reading tests at the beginning of First and Second Year. From 2016 all post-primary schools shall be required to ‘report on the national achievement trends in reading and mathematics at least every two years using aggregated data from standardised tests in schools.’ Department of Education and Skills (2011, p. 81)
Generally tests are administered by subject teachers on a continual basis during the year. First, Second and Fifth Year students sit Summer House Exams. Parents/Guardians receive reports providing a grade representative of the student’s performance at the end of the First Term and of the Summer Term. Third Year and Sixth Year students sit House Exams following the Halloween Mid-Term break and Pre-State Exams in preparation for the State Exams in June. Parents/Guardians receive a report reflecting the result of these exams in place of the First Term and Summer Term Reports. Cognitive Abilities Test (C.A.T) also takes place during Third Year.
Transition Year students enjoy a broad range of activities that lend themselves to various forms of assessment. Parents/Guardians receive reports at the end of each of the modules that punctuate the Transition Year schedule. Leaving Certificate Applied students are assessed on a continual basis throughout their Programme through set Tasks and Key Assignments. In addition, students sit a formal State Exam on completion of their two year course of study. Some of the students at St. Brendan’s Community School may require additional supports to assist with their learning practice and experiences. In as much as is possible resources are provided to facilitate the learning needs of all students.
Fostering Professional Collegiality and Collaboration under the Teaching Council’s Code of Professional Conduct for Teachers, the content of all forms of assessment should reflect the Curriculum and Subject Department Schemes of Work. The design of House Exams should reflect the requisite exam duration and should also be a collaborative process in as much as possible. The form, timing and structure of assessments may be dependent on subject areas (for example, practical work). Each Year Group should be informed of these arrangements by Subject Departments at the earliest opportunity. Refer to individual Departments for assessment practices (see Addendum).
Procedure for Supervisors to enable qualitative assessment
Discourage students finishing early
In the event that a student is finished an examination earlier than intended they may discretely turn their exam over and commence supplementary material provided for that examination.
Exam scripts should not be collected prior to the closing minutes of an exam (not more than 10 minutes prior to its timetabled termination).
Monitoring and Review
The effectiveness of this policy shall be monitored and reviewed on an annual basis.
Chairperson: Board of ManagemenT date