Assessment

Assessment and reporting procedures

Rationale
Section 22 of the Education Act, 1998, states that the principal and teachers in a school shall

  • encourage and foster learning in students
  • regularly evaluate students and periodically report the results of the evaluation to the students and their parents

In St Kevin’s Community College we strive to meet the needs of all by identifying, expressing and realising personal skills, talents, interests and values as well as encouraging students to achieve the highest possible results in public and other examinations. We believe that a clear assessment and reporting procedure supports this aim.

Assessment
Assessment takes place on an ongoing basis in every classroom during every school day and we cannot describe in detail the many ways that a teacher and student engages in this process on this site.  This section outlines some of the more coordinated assessment processes that take place throughout the school year.

Pre-induction assessment
Students offered a place in the school are brought in for assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to create a range of results to show students’ attainment. These results along with information received from parents and primary teachers are used to place students in mixed ability classes so that students can access the curriculum at an appropriate rate and level.

Informal/Formative assessment
Informal assessment involves observing and interacting with the students during the lesson and providing opportunities for the teacher and student to evaluate progress. This takes place on an ongoing basis in the classroom and may involve recording progress in the student’s journal (for example a behaviour note, test result, homework note), or in the teacher’s journal.

Formal/Summative assessment
Formal exams take place at Christmas and Summer. Reports are issued at the conclusion of these.

Mock examinations for 3rd and 6th year students take place in February with a formal report issued to parents. This report often forms the basis of subject level to be taken in state examinations by students.

Formative and summative assessment
While the value of both forms of assessment is recognised, each has its own strengths and challenges.

Summative assessment, usually in the form of a written examination, can be a reliable way of judging a student’s attainment in relation to other students. However many factors can influence the reliability of such an assessment and poor results can damage a student’s confidence.

Formative assessment is intended to inform students how to improve their learning. A Formative Assessment is any task that provides feedback to students on their learning achievements. The emphasis in formative assessment is in encouraging more understanding in the students in relation to their strengths, weaknesses and gaps in knowledge. Formative assessment can be time consuming but is extremely useful in that it can serve to inform the teaching and learning process.

Examples of formative assessments used include:

  • Student presentations: Poster presentations, oral presentations, project presentations.
  • Comment only marking: Common statements of error or excellence from a previous similar assignment can be collated, numbered. Using this information, a checklist of errors/strengths can be devised to give students a numerical code on their assignment to relate to, thereby reducing repetitive written comments on assignments.
  • Technology: Well-designed simple multiple-choice questions on software, give students continuous feedback on their performance.
  • Peer- and self-assessment are utilised to tap into the valuable feedback from peers and judgements on one’s own performance.
  • Traffic-lighting: Use of green, orange and red cards for students to show their understanding of some aspect of the teaching and learning to the teacher.
  • KWL – What I KNOW; what I WANT to learn and what I have LEARNED.

State Examinations
St Kevin’s Community College offer students the Junior Cycle, Junior Certificate (JC – currently being phased out), JCSP, Leaving Certificate (LC) and Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA). Each programme is examined by the State Examinations Commission (www.examinations.ie). Depending on the programme and subject, students are assessed by means of:

  • terminal written examination
  • completed written project
  • oral language examination
  • interview on completed task
  • classroom based assessment (CBA)
  • assessment task (Junior Cycle)
  • continuous assessment by teacher (LCA assignments)
  • completed practical project
  • practical examination (e.g. Music, Home Economics, Art)

Oral language examinations are usually held in March/April. Practical examinations are held between March and May. Full details of the relevant dates for each year are available at www.examinations.ie.

Results for all Leaving Certificate Students are issued in August and for Junior Certificate/Cycle students in September.

To assist students in their preparation for the State Examinations students are given Mock written, oral and practical examinations.

Reporting to Students

A considerable amount of the school’s reporting to students happens through the normal subject-by-subject monitoring and assessment of class-work and homework. Typically, this kind of feedback to students tends to be:

  • Oral: where the teacher responds to the questions or answers of students, or where the teacher responds to classroom or homework assignments, or where the teacher draws attention to the quality of student involvement in classwork. Focused oral feedback can make the most powerful impact on the learner.
  • Marks or grading: where the teacher offers measurement of student achievement in tests or homework assignments. While reliance on marks or grades does little to improve learning, such records can provide an accurate measurement of achievement.
  • Written comment: where the teacher offers feedback on student assignments. It is recognised that the quality of the feedback given to students is more significant than the frequency of reporting.

Reporting to Parents

Reporting to parents on the progress of students is a crucial part of the relationship between school and parents. The value of regular discussions, both formal and informal, between parents and teachers cannot be overemphasised. St Kevin’s Community College reports to and encourages feedback from parents in the following ways.

  • The issuing of formal reports after the 1st (Christmas) and 3rd (Summer) term for every year group. Teachers enter a mark, grade and comment for each student in their class. Where a student is absent for a formal assessment, the teacher will base the assigned on the student’s prior work, where possible.
  • Parents of Leaving Certificate Applied students receive a certificate stating their cumulative results to date at the end of each of the four sessions.
  • Oral and/or written feedback is provided at a once yearly parent-teacher meeting for all years.  These meetings provide an opportunity to nominate areas that need specific attention and to indicate what needs to be done by teacher, parents and students to improve student performance.
  • The TY and 6th Year graduation nights where the achievements of students are celebrated. All students receive a folder of certificates and students who have excelled in certain academic and other fields receive awards.
  • Communicating by student journal, phone, letter or e-mail with parents when deemed appropriate (e.g. note in journal, regarding attendance, homework, involvement in bullying, concern for the well being of a student, detention, suspension, etc.)
  • Teachers make themselves available to parents who wish to make an appointment through the office to discuss a student’s progress.
  • The Parents’ Newsletter is sent home several times a year and gives information of a general nature on past and upcoming events in the school calendar.
  • We encourage input from parents on appropriate policy/procedural issues (e.g. homework, parent-teacher meetings) through the medium of the HSCL, the Parents’ Association, the school website and the Parents’ Newsletter.