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3 Draft Leaving Certificate specifications consultations

3 Draft Leaving Certificate specifications consultations

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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 History 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 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 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 an Assessment Toolkit. Along with the guide to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) process, the 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 
  • an assessment glossary. 

The contents of the toolkit 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.

The assessment of history for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise two Classroom-Based Assessments: The past in my place and A life in time. Students complete a formal written Assessment Task to be submitted to the State Examinations Commission for marking along with the final examination for history. It is allocated 10% of the marks used to determine the grade awarded by the State Examinations Commission. The Assessment Task is specified by the NCCA and related to the learning outcomes on which the second Classroom-Based Assessment is based.

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.

Over the three years of junior cycle, students will be provided with opportunities to stimulate their interest in discovering the experience of people in the past. It is envisaged that through the Classroom-Based Assessments students will actively engage in practical and authentic learning experiences that will enable them to meaningfully engage with learning outcomes. The Classroom-Based Assessments will provide an opportunity for students to:

  • engage with areas of personal historical interest  
  • work with evidence and 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 
  • develop their historical consciousness 
  • collaborate with others on tasks  
  • reflect on their own learning.  

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


The past in my place

Format Student preparation Completion of assessment SLAR meeting
Structured, evidence-based enquiry into a historical aspect or theme relating to the locality, place or personal/family history of the student Report that may be presented in a wide variety of formats Students will, over a specified time, report on a project related to an aspect of the history of their locality or place, to include personal/ family history, as appropriate Towards the end of second year One review meeting


A life in time

Format Student preparation Completion of assessment SLAR meeting
Structured, evidence-based enquiry into the historical life and experiences of a person of interest Report that may be presented in a variety of formats Students will, over time, report on a project where they research the life and experiences of a person of historical interest Term two in third year One review meeting

More detailed material on assessment for reporting in Junior Cycle History, setting out details of the practical arrangements related to assessment of the Classroom-Based Assessments, will be available in the Assessment Guidelines for History. 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 Assessment Toolkit also includes substantial resource material for use in ongoing classroom assessment of Junior Cycle History as well as providing a detailed account of the Subject Learning and Assessment Review process.

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 student work. The features of quality will be available in Assessment Guidelines for History. All students will complete both Classroom-Based Assessments.

On completion of the Classroom-Based Assessments, students will undertake an Assessment Task. This will be completed after the second Classroom-Based Assessment and will be marked by the State Examinations Commission. The Assessment Task will assess students in respect of their learning including:

  • their ability to demonstrate their understanding of historical concepts by applying their historical 
  • thinking to researching the life of a person in history 
  • their ability to evaluate new knowledge or understanding that has emerged through their 
  • experience of the Classroom-Based Assessment 
  • their capacity to reflect on the process of research and forming historical judgements based on 
  • evidence 
  • their reflections on how their experience of conducting research has influenced their attitudes 
  • and values.

There will be one examination paper at a common level. This paper will be set and marked by the State Examinations Commission. The examination will be of two hours’ duration and will take place at the end of third year. In any one year, the learning outcomes to be assessed will constitute a sample of the relevant outcomes from the tables of learning outcomes. 

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.

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