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 students. Assessment in junior cycle geography 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. Summative 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 have access to an Assessment Toolkit. Along with the guide to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) process, the Assessment Toolkit includes learning, teaching and assessment support material, including: 

  • formative assessment  
  • planning for and designing assessment 
  • ongoing assessments for classroom use
  • judging student work – looking at expectations for students and features of quality 
  • reporting to parents and students 
  • thinking about assessment: ideas, research and reflections 
  • a glossary.  

The contents of the Assessment Toolkit include a range of assessment supports, advice and guidelines that enable schools and teachers to engage with the new assessment system and reporting arrangements in an informed way, with confidence and clarity.

Assessment for the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement  

The assessment of Geography for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise two Classroom-Based Assessments: Geography in the news; and My geography. In addition, the second Classroom-Based Assessment will have a written Assessment Task that will be prepared and marked, along with a final examination, by the State Examinations Commission.

Rationale for the Classroom-Based Assessments in Geography  

Classroom-Based Assessments are the occasions when the teacher assesses students in the specific assessments that are set out in the specification. 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. Students will experience the Classroom-Based Assessments in Geography through the lens of the three contextual elements:

  1. Processes, patterns, systems and scale
  2. Geographical skills
  3. Sustainability.  

Over the three years of junior cycle, students will be provided with opportunities to stimulate their curiosity and interest in Geography. The Classroom-Based Assessments link to the priorities for learning and teaching in Geography. It is envisaged that through the Classroom-Based Assessments they will actively engage in practical and authentic learning experiences. 

The Classroom-Based Assessments will provide an opportunity for students to:

  • research information using a range of methods
  • analyse data and evidence to make informed value judgements and decisions
  • organise information and plan logically
  • communicate clearly and effectively
  • collaborate with others on tasks
  • reflect on their contributions to the work and their own learning
  • apply their learning to current, relevant contexts
  • be empowered and engaged to explore areas of personal interest linking to areas of study.

Through these Classroom-Based Assessments students will develop their knowledge, understanding, skills and values, thereby achieving the learning outcomes across the strands.

Classroom-Based Assessment 1: Geography in the news  

CBA

Geography in the news

Format Student preparation Completion of assessment SLAR meeting
Structured inquiry through a response to a recent geographical event (s) Reports which may be presented in a wide range of formats At the end of a three-week period students will report on their inquiry, based on a recent media source, relating to a geographical event Second term of second year One review meeting

 

Structured Inquiry

Students undertake an investigation into an aspect of Geography. The investigation can take place inside or outside of the classroom, where students can apply their knowledge and skills. Specific details of each of the CBA’s structured inquiries are included in the separate Assessment Guidelines for Geography.

Classroom-Based Assessment 2: My geography  

CBA

My geography

Format Student preparation Completion of assessment SLAR meeting
Structured inquiry into a geographical aspect (s) in a local area Reports which may be presented in a wide range of formats Students will, over a three-week period, investigate geographical aspects in a local area First term of third year One review meeting

 

Structured Inquiry

Students undertake an investigation into an aspect of Geography. The investigation can take place inside or outside of the classroom, where students can apply their knowledge and skills. Specific details of each of the CBA’s structured inquiries are included in the separate Assessment Guidelines for Geography.

Features of quality  

The 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. All students will complete both CBAs. The features of quality will be available in Assessment Guidelines for Geography.

Assessing the Classroom-Based Assessments  

More detailed material on assessment for reporting in Junior Cycle Geography, setting out details of the practical arrangements related to assessment of the Classroom-Based Assessments, will be available in separate Assessment Guidelines for Geography. This will include, for example, the suggested length and formats for student pieces of work, and support in using ‘on balance’ judgement in relation to the features of quality. The NCCA’s Assessment Toolkit also includes substantial resource material for use and reference in the ongoing classroom assessment of Junior Cycle Geography, as well as providing a detailed account of the Subject Learning and Assessment Review process.
 

Assessment Task  

On completion of the second Classroom-Based Assessment, students will undertake an Assessment Task which will be marked by the State Examinations Commission. 

The Assessment Task will assess students in aspects of their learning including:

  • their ability to reflect on the development of their geographical thinking
  • their ability to evaluate new knowledge or understanding that has emerged through their experience of the Classroom-Based Assessment
  • their ability to reflect on the skills they have developed, and their capacity to apply them to unfamiliar situations in the future
  • their ability to reflect on how their appreciation of geography has been influenced through the experience of the Classroom-Based Assessment.
     

Final Examination  

There will be one examination paper at a common level, set and marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC). The examination will be no longer than two hours in duration and will take place in June of third year. In any year, the learning outcomes to be assessed will constitute a sample of the relevant outcomes from the tables of learning outcomes.

Inclusive assessment practices

This specification allows for inclusive assessment practices whether as part of ongoing assessment or Classroom-Based Assessments.  Where a school judges that a student has a specific physical or learning difficulty, reasonable accommodations may be put in place to remove, as far as possible, the impact of the disability on the student’s performance in Classroom-Based Assessments.  The accommodations, e.g. 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 student’s learning throughout the year.