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 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, ensuring that the assessment method or methods chosen are fit for purpose, timely and relevant to the students. Assessment in Engineering at junior cycle will optimise the opportunity for students to become reflective and active participants in their learning and for teachers to support this. This can be achieved through the provision of opportunities for students to negotiate success criteria against which the quality of their work can be judged by peer, self, and teacher assessment; and through 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
  • a 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 Engineering for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise of:

  • two Classroom-Based Assessments: Engineering in action, and Research and development
  • a project
  • a written examination.

Assessment overview

CBA 1: Engineering in action 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. The CBA will be completed within a three-week period during term two of second year.
CBA 2: Research and development 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. This CBA will inform the student’s work under the Project assessment. The CBA will be completed within a three-week period during term one of third year.
Project (70%) Will be specified and marked by the State Examinations Commission annually.
Written examination (30%) Set and marked by State Examinations Commission.

 

Rationale for the Classroom-Based Assessments in Engineering  

Classroom-Based Assessments are the occasions when the teacher assesses the 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.

Over the three years of junior cycle students will be provided with opportunities to stimulate their curiosity and interest in Engineering. The Classroom-Based Assessments link to the priorities for learning and teaching in Engineering. It is envisaged that through the Classroom-Based Assessments students 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
  • communicate evidence of the cyclical process of design and reflect on their learning.

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

Classroom-Based Assessment 1: Engineering in action  

Engineering in action provides students with the opportunity to actively engage in a practical and authentic learning experience that allows them to, individually or collaboratively, explore the applications of engineering in the world around them. Students will investigate real-life applications of the processes and principles of engineering. Students can focus their investigation through the lens of a specific strand, a combination of two strands or can adopt an integrated approach across all three strands. The students will communicate their findings through any appropriate media (such as practical work, verbal, electronic, written and/or a combination.). Further information will be set out in the Assessment Guidelines for Engineering.

Classroom-Based Assessment 2: Research and development  

This Classroom-Based Assessment will encourage students to carry out research based on a theme which will be reflective of an aspect of the final project. The purpose of this CBA is to research, explore and present their findings through any appropriate media. Classroom-Based Assessment 2 will inform the project assessment.
Further information will be set out in the Assessment Guidelines.

Assessing the Classroom-Based Assessments  

More detailed information related to assessment of the Classroom-Based Assessments will be available in separate Assessment Guidelines. This will include, for example, the suggested length and formats for student pieces of work, the features of quality to be applied to the assessment, and support in using ‘on balance’ judgement in relation to the features of quality.

 

The assessment section of www.ncca.ie will also include substantial resource material for use and reference in ongoing classroom assessment of Engineering at junior cycle, as well as examples of student work and guidance for the Subject Learning and Assessment Review process.

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. Features of quality for the Classroom-Based Assessments will be provided in the Assessment Guidelines.

Project for assessment by SEC  

On completion of the Classroom-Based Assessments, students will undertake a project for assessment. The project is completed after the second Classroom-Based Assessment in third year. The project is prescribed and is marked by the State Examinations Commission.

Written examination  

The written examination:
• is of 90 minutes’ duration
• will take place at the end of third year and will be offered at a common level
• will be set and marked by the State Examinations Commission.

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.