- encourage and foster learning in students
- regularly evaluate students and periodically report the results of the evaluation to the students and their parents
In Lucan Community College we endeavour to meet the needs of all by “identifying, expressing and realising personal skills, talents, interests and values as well as encouraging students to achieve the highest possible results in public and other examinations.” (School Mission & Aims).
A clear assessment and reporting procedure supports this aim.
Assessment takes place on an ongoing basis in every classroom during every school day and this document cannot describe in detail the many ways that a teacher and student engages in this process. Appendix 3 includes a number of different approaches to assessment. This section outlines some of the more coordinated assessment processes that take place throughout the school year.
Students offered a place in the school are brought in for assessment on the first Friday of February. The details of the assessment process are described in Appendix 4. The purpose of the assessment is to create a range of results to show students attainment regarding Reading Age, Numerical ability, Verbal ability, Perception skills, and Gaeilge. These results along with information received from parents and primary teachers are used to place students in bands and in base classes so that students can access the curriculum at an appropriate rate and level.
Informal assessment involves observing and interacting with the students during the lesson and providing opportunities for the teacher and student to evaluated progress. This takes place on an ongoing basis in the classroom and may involve recording progress in the student’s journal (for example a behaviour note, test result, homework note), or in the teacher’s journal.
Appendix 1 outlines the school calendar of formal assessment and reporting undertaken by the school. The coordination of all formal exams that take place in the hall or gym is a special duties post. Duties of the post-holder are described in detail elsewhere but include:
- creating a timetable of exams (times, classes, venues)
- creating a timetable of supervision for exams
- organising centres for students who are granted Reasonable Accommodation in Certificate Examinations (R.A.C.E.)
- ensuring the necessary stationary is available for exams
- organising a process for the collection of examination papers
- organising the ordering of mock examination papers
- assisting in the smooth running of the examinations
Formative and summative assessment
While the value of both forms of assessment is recognised, each has its own strengths and challenges. Appendix 3 outlines some further approaches to assessment utilised in the school including assessment for learning strategies.
Summative assessment, usually in the form of a written examination, can be a reliable way of judging a student’s attainment in relation to other students. However many factors can influence the reliability of such an assessment and poor results can damage a student’s confidence.
Formative assessment is intended to inform students how to improve their learning. A Formative Assessment is any task that provides feedback to students on their learning achievements. (Knight, 2002). The emphasis in formative assessment is in encouraging more understanding in the students in relation to their strengths, weaknesses, gaps in knowledge. Formative assessment can be time consuming but is extremely useful in that it can serve to inform the teaching and learning process.
Examples of formative assessments used include:
- Student presentations: Poster presentations, oral presentations, project presentations.
- Comment only marking: Common statements of error or excellence from a previous similar assignment can be collated, numbered. Using this information, a checklist of errors/strengths can be devised to give students a numerical code on their assignment to relate to, thereby reducing repetitive written comments on assignments.
- Technology: Well-designed simple multiple-choice questions on software, give students continuous feedback on their performance.
- Peer- and self-assessment are utilised to tap into the valuable feedback from peers and judgements on one’s own performance.
- Traffic-lighting: Use of green, orange and red cards for students to show their understanding of some aspect of the teaching and learning to the teacher.
Lucan Community College offer students the Junior Cycle (JCSA), Junior Certificate (JC), Leaving Certificate (LC), Leaving Certificate Applied (LCA) and Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme (LCVP). Each programme is examined by the State Examinations Commission (www.examinations.ie). Depending on the programme and subject, students are assessed by means of:
- terminal written examination
- completed written project
- oral language examination
- interview on completed task
- continuous assessment by teacher (LCA assignments)
- completed practical project
- practical examination (e.g. Music, Home Economics, Art)
Oral language examinations are usually held in March/April. Practical examinations are held between March and May. Full details of the relevant dates for each year are available at www.examinations.ie.
Results for all Leaving Certificate Students are issued in August and for Junior Certificate students in September.
To assist students in their preparation for the State Examinations students are given Mock written, oral and practical examinations. See details in Appendix 1.
A considerable amount of the school’s reporting to students happens through the normal subject-by-subject monitoring and assessment of class-work and homework. Typically, this kind of feedback to students tends to be:
- Oral: where the teacher responds to the questions or answers of students, or where the teacher responds to classroom or homework assignments, or where the teacher draws attention to the quality of student involvement in classwork. Focused oral feedback can make the most powerful impact on the learner.
- Marks or grading: where the teacher offers measurement of student achievement in tests or homework assignments. While reliance on marks or grades does little to improve learning, such records can provide an accurate measurement of achievement.
- Written comment: where the teacher offers feedback on student assignments. It is recognised that the quality of the feedback given to students is more significant than the frequency of reporting.
Reporting to parents on the progress of students is a crucial part of the relationship between school and parents. The value of regular discussions, both formal and informal, between parents and teachers cannot be overemphasised. Lucan Community College reports to and encourages feedback from parents in the following ways.
- The issuing of formal reports after the 1st (Christmas) and 3rd (Summer) term for every year group and additional formal reports at other times where deemed appropriate (see Appendix 1 for current timetable for issuing formal reports). Teachers enter a mark, grade and comment for each student in their class. Where a student is absent for a formal assessment, the teacher will base the assigned on the student’s prior work. Specific report templates are designed for students of Leaving Certificate Applied and Transition Year due to the different structures involved in these courses.
- Parents of Leaving Certificate Applied students receive a certificate stating their cumulative results to date at the end of each of the four sessions.
- Oral and/or written feedback is provided at a once yearly parent-teacher meeting for all years except Transition Year. These meetings provide an opportunity to nominate areas that need specific attention and to indicate what needs to be done by teacher, parents and students to improve student performance. Guidelines for Communication at Parent-Teacher meetings are available for assisting both parents and teachers.
- The TY achievement night and 6th Year graduation night where the achievements of students are celebrated. All students receive a folder of certificates and students who have excelled in certain academic and other fields receive awards.
- Communicating by student journal, phone, letter or e-mail with parents when deemed appropriate (e.g. note in journal, regarding attendance, homework, involvement in bullying, concern for the well being of a student, detention, suspension, etc.)
- Teachers make themselves available to parents who wish to make an appointment through the office to discuss a student’s progress.
- The Parents’ Newsletter is sent home several times a year and gives information of a general nature on past and upcoming events in the school calendar.
- We encourage input from parents on appropriate policy/procedural issues (e.g. homework, parent-teacher meetings) through the medium of the Parents’ Association, the school website and the Parents’ Newsletter.