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. All assessment in junior cycle, formative or summative, moment-in-time or ongoing, SEC, NCCA or teacher-designed, should have as its primary purpose, the support of student learning. Research shows that the greatest benefits for students’ learning occur when teachers provide effective feedback to students that helps them to understand how their learning can be improved.
That is why consideration of approaches to quality learning cannot be separated from consideration of assessment. Ongoing classroom assessment practices are of crucial importance in supporting student learning and promoting student achievement. Ongoing assessment involves practice that is both formative and summative. Schools use a range of assessment methods for formative or summative purposes which emphasise the interlinked and complementary nature of the assessment process at junior cycle. These assessment practices build on existing good practice in teaching, learning and assessment.
Most of the assessment activities over the three years of junior cycle are formative in nature. Teachers use the learning outcomes from PLUs or short course specifications as a starting point for planning a unit of learning and to develop learning intentions and success criteria to be shared and discussed with their students as appropriate. The same approach will be taken for those students continuing to engage with L1LPs as all or part of their senior cycle programme.
These learning outcomes clearly set out what the students should know, understand, and be able to do as a result of the learning and teaching activities which they have undertaken during the course of junior cycle. As part of their daily practice, teachers continue to assess students’ learning by observing and listening as students carry out tasks and by considering how they respond to questions.
Teachers use learning intentions and success criteria as the basis for providing feedback to help students plan their next steps in learning. Students are also encouraged to reflect on how they are progressing in their own learning and provide feedback to their teachers. In developing the capacity for self-management and self-awareness, students approach their learning more confidently and are better prepared to meet the challenges of life beyond school. To engage with assessment in the context of L1LPs and beyond and for more information on learning outcomes, learning intentions, success criteria and features of quality see the NCCA's junior cycle Assessment Toolkit.