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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 approach requires a more varied approach to assessment in ensuring that the assessment method(s) chosen is fit for purpose, timely and relevant to the students. Assessment in junior cycle Visual Art 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 will have access to an Assessment Toolkit. Along with the guide to the Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) process, the toolkit will include 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 will include the range of assessment supports, advice and guidelines that will enable schools and teachers to engage with the new assessment system and reporting arrangements in an informed way, with confidence and clarity.

Visual Art is a practical subject. The assessment of Visual Art for the purposes of the Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will comprise two Classroom-Based Assessments: From process to realisation and Communicate and reflect. The State Examinations Commission (SEC) will mark the development work and realised work that is generated from the initial research, planning and experimentation in the second Classroom-Based Assessment . One piece of realised work undertaken in either Classroom-Based Assessment must be realised in three dimensions. There is no final examination in this practical subject.

Year CBA Format Student Preparation Completion of the Assessment SLAR Meeting
Second year CBA 1 From process to realisation Visual Art sketchpad
1 realised work
Students, either individually or in a group, choose one scenario from a list prepared by the NCCA. They then generate ideas, experiment and develop these ideas in their Visual Art sketchpad, and realise an artwork through one of the three strands. End of April One review meeting
Third year CBA 2 Communicate and reflect Presentation Individually, students choose one scenario from a list prepared by the SEC and NCCA to generate ideas, experiments and other preparatory work in their Visual Art sketchpad. Students present this initial research and work through the two remaining strands not undertaken as part of the first Classroom-Based Assessment . This presentation of ideas and preparatory work is assessed and students reflect on the feedback they receive. Between mid-December and mid-January One review meeting

Both Classroom-Based Assessments are centred on scenarios. These scenarios may be adapted to suit current or ongoing work or learning experiences in the art class or can be used as a starting point for new work. The scenarios will be designed in an open and accessible manner so that they are flexible and can be aligned with the school’s curriculum context as well as the learning needs of the students. It is important that the scenarios are discussed by the teacher and the students as well as between the students themselves. The approach to constructing a response to the chosen scenario/s can be planned through collaboration between the teacher and student or between student and student. Group work or individual work is allowed for in Classroom-Based Assessment 1: From process to realisation.

By the time students engage with the first Classroom-Based Assessment they will have gained knowledge and understanding and developed skills in the processes involved across all three strands of Visual Art. As students engage with the learning in the strands they will also develop their own personal attitudes towards the range and depth of the subject and develop a sense of identity around their own particular style.

Through their experiences of learning in Visual Art, students develop skills which help them to approach problems in creative ways. Problem identification is part of the creative process that allows the student to frame their inquiry. In this way they experience and relate more directly to the visual art processes and work on a more personal level. It is important that the student has ownership and takes part in deciding the starting point for their own work. Although the problems they seek to address may be based on personal experience, in their approach students will be able to respond using the knowledge, understanding and skills they have developed during junior cycle in order to fully realise them through their work.

The two Classroom-Based Assessments for junior cycle Visual Art are distinct markers in the student’s learning journey, while still being an integral part of ongoing assessment and routine classroom practice. They will support the student by affording them the opportunity to work authentically as an artist, craftsperson or designer and allow them to focus on their learning and development of knowledge, skills, understanding and values in Visual Art. In Classroom-Based Assessment 1, the student may present their work as an individual or part of a group to their teacher and peers and possibly a wider audience. However, in both Classroom-Based Assessments, the student will be encouraged to develop their own, personal approach to this work and so take ownership of their learning as well as the processes they applied and their realised work.

How the student has engaged with their work is important in Visual Art: this will affect not only the formulation of their initial ideas, but also the subsequent working through of those ideas in their choice of techniques and media, which will of course impact on the realised works.  

How the student takes into consideration their audience is also important in Visual Art. Whether their work is personal in response or created to make a statement, the student will need to communicate through it to an audience. The audience no longer needs to be their peers alone or their teachers. It can involve a wider group of intended recipients should they choose to become involved in work with their community or if it is enabled through the use of digital technologies, for example.

This specification recognises that the voice of the student is very important in any explanation of their work. While this voice can emerge through the works themselves, it must also be a reflective voice. As the student progresses through their work they will naturally question their choices and decisions. This reflection is to be welcomed as it indicates a concern about the work itself as well as their own personal artistic development. Students will also be given the chance to self-assess and reflect at the end of each Classroom-Based Assessment .

Much of the work that the student creates for the Classroom-Based Assessments will be generated and recorded in the Visual Art sketchpad, which is outlined and fully explained in Appendix A. The Visual Art sketchpad is a physical collection of ideas, processes and work, in physical or digital form (or a combination of both). The student’s Visual Art sketchpad is very important when it comes to the Classroom-Based Assessments as much of the work involved in creating a realised piece of art, craft or design takes place in the initial, developmental and experimental stages. The Visual Art sketchpad is used to capture all of these stages, including initial ideas, sketches, drawings, colour and media studies, photographs, digital work and research of visual culture, as well as the work of other artists/craftspeople/designers.


The steps for Classroom-Based Assessment 1: From process to realisation are as follows:

  1. CBA 1 is completed by students either individually or in groups.
  2. Students choose one scenario from a list.
  3. Students are required to realise a piece of work primarily through one of the Visual Art strands. However, students may incorporate aspects of other strands as appropriate for their work.
  4. Students use their Visual Art sketchpad to research initial ideas, develop their work and reflect on their progress while incorporating the five elements of junior cycle Visual Art.
  5. Students complete and present their realised work and accompanying Visual Art sketchpad.

The work can be teacher-led, student-led or may be based on a collaboration between teacher and student or student and student.


The steps for Classroom-Based Assessment 2: Communicate and reflect are as follows:

  1. CBA 2 is completed by students on an individual basis.
  2. Students choose one scenario from a list.
  3. Students are required to realise two artworks through the two strands not undertaken for the first Classroom-Based Assessment , which they completed in second year. However, students may incorporate aspects of other strands as appropriate for their work.
  4. Students use their Visual Art sketchpad to research initial ideas and develop these while incorporating the five elements of junior cycle Visual Art.
  5. Students will use the material from their Visual Art sketchpad to share, through a presentation or discussion, what their initial thoughts, ideas and experiments are and how they might shape their work for this second Classroom-Based Assessment . Based on feedback from their teacher and peers, students reflect upon their work and the direction they will take it in for the state-certified examination.

Students should note that if the realised piece of work completed for Classroom-Based Assessment 1 was not three-dimensional, then one of the two realised pieces of work for Classroom-Based Assessment 2 must be.
The work can be teacher-led, student-led or may be based on a collaboration between teacher and student or student and student.

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 the Assessment Guidelines for Visual Art. All students will complete both Classroom-Based Assessments.

More detailed material on assessment for reporting in junior cycle Visual Art, 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 size and formats for student work and support in using 'on-balance' judgement in relation to the features of quality. The NCCA's Assessment Toolkit will also include substantial resource material for use in ongoing classroom assessment of junior cycle Visual Art as well as providing a detailed account of the Subject Learning and Assessment Review process.

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.

After completion of the second Classroom-Based Assessment , students will reflect on and use the  feedback from their teacher and peers, as the basis to create further significant developmental work in their Visual Art sketchpad as well as two realised pieces for the state-certified examination. The work submitted must also contain some initial research and experimentation work from the second Classroom-Based Assessment where appropriate, in order to clarify the development of the student’s ideas including the incorporation of any feedback they received which was useful in advancing their later ideas and work. This work will be marked by the State Examinations Commission.

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