Assessment and Reporting

Assessment in education involves gathering, interpreting and using information about the processes and outcomes of learning. It takes different forms and can be used in a variety of ways, such as to record and report achievement, to determine appropriate routes for learners to take through a differentiated curriculum, or to identify specific areas of difficulty or strength for a given  learner. While different techniques may be employed for formative, diagnostic and summative purposes, the focus of the assessment and reporting is on the improvement of student learning. To do this it must fully reflect the aim of the curriculum.
 
The junior cycle places a strong emphasis on assessment as part of the learning process. This approach requires a more varied approach to assessment in ensuring that the assessment method or methods chosen are fit for purpose, timely and relevant to the students. Assessment in Junior Cycle Irish will optimise the opportunity for students to become reflective and active participants in their learning and for teachers to support this. This rests upon the provision for learners of opportunities to negotiate success criteria against which the quality of their work can be judged by peer, self, and teacher assessment; and upon the quality of the focused feedback they get in support of their learning.
Providing focused feedback to students on their learning is a critical component of high-quality assessment and a key factor in building students’ capacity to manage their own learning and their motivation to stick with a complex task or problem. Assessment is most effective when it moves beyond marks and grades, and reporting focuses not just on how the student has done in the past but on the next steps for further learning. This approach will ensure that assessment takes place as close as possible to the point of learning. Final assessment still has a role to play, but is only one element of a broader approach to assessment.
 
Essentially, the purpose of assessment and reporting at this stage of education is to support learning. Parents/guardians should receive a comprehensive picture of student learning. Linking classroom assessment and other assessment with a new system of reporting that culminates in the awarding of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will offer parents/guardians a clear and broad picture of their child’s learning journey over the three years of junior cycle. To support this, teachers and schools will have access to an Assessment Toolkit. Along with a guide to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) process, the Assessment Toolkit will include learning, teaching and assessment support material related to:
 
  • formative assessment
  • planning for and designing assessment
  • ongoing assessment for classroom use
  • judging  student work – looking  at expectations for students and features of quality
  • reporting for parents and students
  • thinking about assessment: ideas, research and reflections
  • a glossary.
 
The Assessment Toolkit will enable schools  and teachers to engage with the new  assessment system and with the reporting arrangements in an informed way, with confidence and clarity.
 

Assessment for the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA)  

The assessment of Irish for the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise two Classroom-Based Assessments: Language portfolio and Language Task; an Assessment Task and a final examination. The Classroom-Based Assessments will allow students to demonstrate their language, communicative, and interactive abilities in ways not possible in a formal examination. The assessments will be closely related to the day-to-day work in the classroom. There will be an Assessment Task to complete after the second Classroom-Based Assessment. The Assessment Task will be related to the learning outcomes on which the second Classroom-Based Assessment is based. This Assessment Task will be sent to the State Examinations Commission (SEC) for marking along with the final examination.

 

Rational for Classroom-Based Assessment  

During the three years, students will have opportunities to enjoy and acquire the language across the three strands

S1: Communicative competence

 

S2: Language and cultural awareness

 

S3: learners’ self-awareness

Listening

Focusing on how  Irish works as a language   

Developing understanding as a language learner

Reading

Fostering awareness about the culture of the language

Developing self-directed learning

Spoken  production

Fostering awareness of bilingualism

Developing an understanding of personal motivation to learn the language

Spoken  interaction

 

 

Writing

 

 

Students will engage in various language activities and tasks:
  • communicating and interacting with the language community
  • listening, reading and writing for a range of purposes
  • enhancing awareness of the culture of the language
  • developing awareness of plurilingualism
  • focusing on how the language works
  • developing self-awareness as a language learner.

Through these activities they will develop knowledge, understanding and skills in language and literacy, thereby achieving the learning outcomes across the strands. The Classroom-Based Assessments offer students opportunities to apply the language skills and knowledge gained to various settings, audiences and meaningful communicative purposes.

Junior Cycle Irish comprises two Classroom-Based Assessments. Classroom-Based Assessments will relate to the students’ learning during second and third year of junior cycle education. Classroom-Based Assessments are similar to the formative assessment that occurs every day in every class. However, in the case of the Classroom-Based Assessments, the teacher’s judgement is recorded for the purpose of subject learning and assessment review, and for the school’s reporting to parents and students.

Classroom-Based Assessment 1: Language portfolio  

Students will create a language portfolio with samples of their work. The language portfolio focuses on the language learning process and places the student and their learning journey at the centre of teaching, learning and assessment. This gives students an opportunity to set personal learning goals, showcase their work, reflect on the work and view progress.

 

The language portfolio may include a range of student-created texts*, e.g. projects, learning logs, creative pieces (poems/songs, etc. created by the student) reflective pieces, recorded material (audio- visual  and visual), texts, presentations completed, etc.

 

*This is not an exhaustive list

 

Evidence of learning

As evidence of their learning, students choose  three portfolio items to submit for assessment. One sound/video piece must be included.

Students should make  use of a literary text or texts (this can be from their study of local/oral literature or from the literature list) from second and/or third year as a stimulus for at least one of the chosen portfolio items to be submitted. Students should outline the reasons for personally selecting the three pieces of work.

 

Classroom-Based Assessment 2: Communicative task  

The Communicative task gives students the opportunity to choose  a subject, topic or issue they are interested or which is important to them, and explore it over a period of time. In this task, strong emphasis is placed on the student’s oral competency and interaction and their link to the language community. Students may choose  any  one of the following formats to complete the task: interview, role play, presentation, drama, or conversation in response to a stimulus. Students can work individually, in pairs or in a group for this task. However, it must be ensured that each student participates/has a clear role and that each student makes a constructive contribution to the task.

Students are given  an opportunity to:

  • interact with classmates, the teacher and the language community
  • enhance language skills and richness
  • develop general skills (researching, time management, self-management, working with others, etc.)
  • assume ownership of learning.

 

Students may use piece(s) from local literature and/or literary texts from the literature list for second year, as a stimulus for the topic/subject for this task.

 

Evidence of learning

As evidence of their learning the students research, prepare, give a short classroom presentation and respond to questions from classmates.

 

 

Features of quality

Features of quality support student and teacher judgement of the Classroom-Based Assessments and are the criteria that will be used by teachers to assess the pieces of student work. Features of quality will be provided in the assessment guidelines for Junior Cycle Irish. All students will complete both CBAs.

Completion of Classroom Based-Assessments

 

 

Completed

SLAR

CBA 1

First term in third year

One review meeting

CBA 2

Middle of second term in third year

One review meeting

 

Assessment Task  

On completion of the Classroom-Based Assessments, students will undertake an Assessment Task. This assessment task will be completed after the second Classroom-Based Assessment component and is marked by the State Examinations Commission.

 

The Assessment Task will encompass some or all of the following elements:

  • students’ ability to evaluate new  knowledge or understanding that has emerged through their experience of the Classroom-Based Assessment
  • students’ capacity to reflect on the skills they have developed, and to apply them to unfamiliar situations
  • students’ ability to reflect on how  their value  system has been  influenced through their experience of the Classroom-Based Assessment.

 

Inclusive assessment practices  

This specification facilitates inclusive assessment practices whether as part of ongoing assessment or the Classroom-Based Assessments. Where a school judges that students have a specific physical or learning difficulty, reasonable accommodations can be put in place to reduce, as far as possible, the impact of the disability on the students’ performance in the Classroom-Based Assessments.

The accommodations, for example the support provided by a special needs assistant or the support of assistive technologies, should be in line with the arrangements the school has put in place to support the students’ learning throughout the school year.

The final examination  

The final examination will be set by the State Examinations Commission at two levels: Ordinary and Higher level. This exam  will be held at the end of third year.

Students will sit a two-hour examination in which they will be asked  to demonstrate their linguistic abilities in various language and literary tasks demanding personal interactive communication. Table 5 below shows the weighting of marks for receptive (listening and reading) and productive skills (creative composition, language awareness, personal responses to literary texts).

Assessed in Final Examination

Evaluating ability/skill

Higher level

Ordinary level

Listening in context

Reading in context

Communicative composition tasks

Personal/communicative responses to literary texts

 

Weightings of marks

Skills

Higher level

Ordinary level

Receptive skills

35%

55%

Productive skills

55%

35%