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 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 Classics 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 an important 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 be given 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 online assessment support material. Along with the guide to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) process, this focuses on 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
  • an assessment glossary.

The contents of the online support material include the 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 JCPA  

The assessment of Classics for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise two Classroom-Based Assessments, and a final examination. In addition, the second Classroom-Based Assessment will have a written Assessment Task that will be marked, along with the final assessment, by the State Examinations Commission. Students will complete a Classroom-Based Assessment for strand 1 (towards the end of second year) and then a second Classroom-Based Assessment for either strand 2 (the classical studies component) or strand 3 (the classical languages component) in term two of third year. All assessments will be at a common level. 

Classroom-Based Assessment 1: Storytelling using myth  

As long as there have been people, there have been stories. From the stories told in paintings on ancient caves to the bedtime stories told to young children, stories make up our history and guide our future. They are powerful and are a part of every culture. They can teach morals, they can teach history. They can entertain us. They can make us think about things in ways we’ve never thought of them before. They can make us laugh. They can make us cry. Telling stories is a large part of what makes people connected to each other. 
Storytelling has many key values for both the individual telling the story and the people listening to the story being told. Among the values that storytelling instils in its participants, is that it hones our literary and imaginative skills. We improve our ability to listen, speak, imagine and create stories. Storytelling broadens our awareness of our own as well as other cultures, allows us to understand ourselves better, and gives us a sense of belonging to a group. 
Storytelling is also powerful in helping students recognise patterns in language, stimulating their powers of creativity, providing them with problem-solving and decision-making examples, and assisting students in developing skills in dialogue and co-operative interpersonal behaviour. There are many different types of stories, which are told for many different purposes. Mythology is one aspect of this wonderful world of storytelling.
Mythology is the world's oldest form of storytelling and myths are best described as stories or sets of stories holding significant symbolic meaning for a particular culture. Myths give us stories about civilisations and their struggles to survive and tell us about their victories against greed and evil. They often feature gods and goddesses, demigods, supernatural heroes/heroines and humans. They convey spiritual experiences and established belief systems, cultural traditions and behavioural models and are filled with symbolic meaning. 
In this Classroom-Based Assessment, students develop their own storytelling abilities by applying the techniques of storytelling to create their own myth, prepare storytelling guides, adapt an existing myth or perform a myth for an audience. When creating a myth, or adapting an existing myth to a new context, students will learn how to bring an idea from concept to realisation. The myth can be presented in a modern context, or in the context of the ancient world, but must adhere to the conventions and techniques of writing a myth as explored in the classroom. 
Through this Classroom-Based Assessment, students will explore: 

  • the benefits and purposes of using myth as a form of storytelling 
  • the key features of a well-told myth
  • how to develop a myth and prepare it for an audience
  • how to develop and refine their storytelling ability through the medium of myth. 

Students can present their myth in a variety of ways, approaches, or in any way that reflects the essence of what it is they are trying to tell; the message or moral they are trying to get across. The following options could be explored by students: 

  • act out a story or myth
  • write a version of a myth
  • write their own myth
  • adapt an existing myth or legend 
  • create a cartoon or a graphic novel of a legend or a myth
  • present a myth in a visual style.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but serves to suggest an approach or a style that the student may wish to work in. The options above can overlap; there is no restriction on the choice that the students can make. The story can be presented in written, digital, visual or audio form, or any other format that is deemed suitable by the student and appropriate for capturing the essence of their ideas. 
Underlying this Classroom-Based Assessment is a focus on the exploration of the purpose and understanding of myth as a form and medium of storytelling. 
This Classroom-Based Assessment will be completed by all students towards the end of second year. 
 

Classroom-Based Assessment 2 (strand 2): Rome, centre of an empire  

This Classroom-Based Assessment is to be completed by those students who have chosen strand 2, the classical studies component. 
This Classroom-Based Assessment has two priorities: to offer students the opportunity to engage in independent research, and to develop their communication and collaboration skills. 
In this Classroom-Based Assessment, students will compile a record of their imagined visit to a public building  in the city of Rome. This building should be one that was not studied as part of strand 2 (the classical studies component). The student (either as a lone traveller or with their friend) has left their small country village for a day and is excited to be visiting the metropolis of Rome. Students should select a building that is associated with a leisure activity, or with the current political leader or emperor, and provide a full record of their experience of visiting that building or attending an event at that building. 
The record could (for example) illuminate for the reader the following: 

  • who was responsible for sanctioning this building or project, and why 
  • what other buildings were approved by the same emperor/leader
  • give some interesting anecdotes about the life of that leader/emperor 
  • who normally attends the venue
  • what is the purpose and function of the building 
  • what did you do there 
  • what is the layout of the interior and the exterior 
  • reference some piece of literature where this building is mentioned.

The record should be accompanied by a model or other visual representation of the building to support the description of the structure, the grounds, and the various rooms. 
This can be presented in any format. For example, this could be a blog, a vlog, an article for a website, a poster, a newspaper report, an interview or a presentation to a town leader. 
Students may work on the Classroom-Based Assessment in pairs or groups. However, it is the individual role and contribution of the student that is the focus of assessment for the JCPA. 
 

Classroom-Based Assessment 2 (strand 3): Student language portfolio  

This Classroom-Based Assessment is to be completed by those students who have chosen Strand 3, the classical language component. 
Over the three years of junior cycle, each student will develop a language portfolio. The student language portfolio focuses on the process of learning the classical language and places the learner at the centre of teaching, assessment and learning. It provides the classical language student with an opportunity to set personal learning goals, to engage with and reflect on their language learning and to develop and document their exploration of the links between the classical language and classical culture, thereby supporting the learning outcomes in strand 1 (the core component). 
The student language portfolio includes a broad range of items, such as written texts, projects, audio-visual materials, learning logs, student reflections and learning goals. Students may present their texts in different formats—handwritten, digital, multi-modal, or any other format that is deemed suitable by the student and appropriate for capturing the essence of their ideas and thoughts. 
This Classroom-Based Assessment offers students a chance to celebrate their achievements as language learners in a variety of media by choosing three pieces from the portfolio they have compiled over time and presenting them for assessment. 
The portfolio might include the following options: 

  • a song or mnemonic to help remember verb endings or case meanings
  • word families to help with recognising Latin vocabulary and/or English etymology
  • articles in English that are analysed to identify words with Greek/Latin roots
  • a dialogue in the classical language 
  • a strategy for tackling translations of original texts 
  • a commentary on the language of an authentic piece of literature studied in the classical language 
  • a brief composition in a text-type with which the ancient languages are commonly associated (for example, a family motto, a piece of graffiti or grave inscription)
  • a comic strip on a chosen topic.

Students will select three items from their portfolio for assessment in this Classroom-Based Assessment. One piece must be related to language acquisition, one must be related to authentic texts, and the third must be related to classical civilisation. This last item needs to include a linguistic component, but does not have to focus solely on the target language. 
 

Assessing the Classroom-Based Assessments  

More detailed material on assessment in junior cycle Classics, setting out details of the practical arrangements related to assessment of the Classroom-Based Assessments, will be available in separate assessment guidelines. This will include, for example, the suggested content and formats for student work and support in using 'on-balance' judgement in relation to the features of quality. The NCCA's online assessment support material also includes substantial resource material for use in ongoing classroom assessment of junior cycle Classics, as well as providing a detailed account of the Subject Learning and Assessment Review process.

Assessment Task  

Students complete a formal written Assessment Task to be submitted to the State Examinations Commission for marking along with the final examination for Classics. The Assessment Task links to the priorities of the second Classroom-Based Assessment, which depending on the strand chosen by the student, will be associated with either the Classical studies strand (strand 2) or the Classical language strand (strand 3). This Assessment Task will offer students the opportunity to apply their knowledge, skills and understanding to empathising with people from different cultures and different times, and using this understanding to reflect on their own values and structures. The Assessment Task will assess students in aspects of their learning including: 

  • their ability to reflect on the development of their understanding of other cultures and their representations
  • 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 the process of researching and forming opinions and judgements based on evidence. 
     

Final examination  

There will be one examination paper at a common level. This paper will be set and marked by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) and will be allocated 90% of the total marks available for the final assessment. The examination will be of two hours’ duration and will take place at the end of third year. During this assessment, students will be required to engage with, demonstrate comprehension of, and provide written responses to stimulus material. 
All students will answer questions associated with strand 1, the core component, and students will then answer questions associated with their chosen strand, either the classical studies strand (strand 2) or the classical language strand (strand 3). 
In any one 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.