Assessment in Junior Cycle.
Before the end of the first term following the completion of the Junior Cycle, each student will receive a composite Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA). This will document the full range of the student’s learning achievements. They will include evidence of student’s achievement gathered over their 3 year cycle in the area of national examination results, classroom based assessments (CBA’s) and other areas of learning (OAL). This section will look closer at these three elements.
- National Examination Results.
During year 3 of Junior Cycle, the students undertake two national assessments, the state examinations in June and the assessment task (AT).
The state examinations are drafted by the state examinations commission (SEC). Student performance on these examinations contributes 90% of their national examination results. These exams are drafted to indicate the student progress in achieving the learning outcomes listed in the specification. As there is not always specific content required to be covered in some of the new Junior Cycle specifications, these exams are not designed to be answered by just memory – recall. Instead, they should demonstrate what the students can do with their knowledge and understanding of a subject. Students can sit either a higher level and ordinary level examination for English, Irish and Mathematics only. All other subjects are completed at a common level for all students.
Student performance on the assessment task contributes 10% of their national examination results. The assessment task may require students to demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills developed during their second classroom-based assessment. It facilitates the student in highlighting key learning points gained as the student undertook the classroom-based assessment in question. It also gives the students the opportunity to reflect and consider how they implemented the key skills in their completion of the 2nd classroom-based assessment. In some subjects, the assessment task also provides an opportunity for students to refer to skills and competences that were developed and describe ways in which their learning might be applied to new situations. Assessment tasks are completed in class under the supervision of their teachers, and are sent to the state examinations commission for marking along with the script for that subject in the state-certified examination. All assessment tasks are undertaken at common level for all students, in all subjects.
- Classroom-Based Assessments.
Assessing skills can be a challenging to do in a written examination. The new Junior Cycle introduced classroom-based assessments, that are separate from the national assessments, as a more viable manner in accurately assessing the development of students' skills, in the different subjects. Each of the full course subjects have 2 classroom-based assessments. The first of these is completed in 2nd year, while the second is completed in 3rd year.
A particular purpose of the classroom-based assessments is to facilitate developmental feedback to students during their engagement with the assessment task and at the end of the process. The tasks involved in the classroom-based assessments are specified by the NCCA, in consultation with the SEC on an annual basis. Features of quality are used as a benchmark for assessment, which have been drafted at national level. This allows the teachers and students to develop their own tasks for their classroom-based assessments, as long as they appropriately demonstrate the key skills listed in the features of quality. Classroom-based assessments are all set at a common level, regardless of subject.
- Other Areas of Learning.
This section provides an opportunity for schools to report on student achievement in other areas of learning including short courses that may have been included in the school’s junior cycle programme. It may also report on other learning experiences and events that the student has participated in. Schools may also wish to include broader aspects of reporting in this section, or areas such as attendance, personal and social development and learning dispositions.
The Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) gathers evidence from these three domains of students learning and experiences onto one document. It allows for a more comprehensive set of results that indicates how students engaged in the learning process of the Junior Cycle programme, and indicates their progress at the end of the programme.