Assessment Policy

Introductory Statement and Rationale This policy on assessing and reporting pupils’ learning attainments and progress was formulated by the staff of Straffan NS. The policy is based on advice and information provided in the Primary Curriculum, the NCCA Website, the NCCA booklet Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum – Guidelines for Schools and Circular 0138/2006. It also takes account of the National Strategy for Literacy and numeracy.

Relationship to characteristic spirit of the school

Assessment activities used in this school will contribute to pupil learning and development by gathering relevant information to guide each pupil’s further learning (assessment for learning) and by providing information on each pupil’s achievement at a particular point in time (assessment of learning). This links with our aim/mission “to educate the whole child, always promoting the pursuit of excellence in a way that respects the individual and the environment”

Aims of our Assessment Policy

§ To benefit pupil learning

§ To monitor learning processes

§ To generate baseline data that can be used to monitor achievement over time

§ To involve parents and pupils in identifying and managing learning strengths or difficulties

§ To assist teachers’ long and short term planning

§ To coordinate assessment procedures on a whole school basis.

Purposes of assessment:

· To inform planning for all areas of the curriculum

· To gather and interpret data at class/whole school level and in relation to national norms

· To identify the particular learning needs of pupils/groups of pupils including the exceptionally able

· To enable teachers to modify their programmes and their teaching methodologies in order to ensure that the particular needs of individual pupils/groups are being addressed

· To compile records of individual pupils’ progress and attainment

· To facilitate communication between parents and teachers about pupils’ development, progress and learning needs

· To facilitate the active involvement of pupils in the assessment of their own work

Definition of Assessment

In line with the NCCA, our staff believe that assessment is integral to teaching and learning and is concerned with children’s progress and achievement. It involves gathering information to understand how each child is progressing at school and using that information to further a child’s learning. We concur with their definition of classroom assessment as “the process of gathering, recording, interpreting, using and reporting information about a child’s progress and achievement in developing knowledge, concepts, skills and attitudes.” Assessment, therefore, involves much more than testing. It is an ongoing process that concerns the daily interactions between the teacher and the child that include moment-by-moment conversations, observations and actions. (NCCA, Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum – Guidelines for Schools. November 2007 p.7).

Range of Assessment Methods used Throughout the School:

Both assessment of learning and assessment for learning can be used by teachers to make professional judgements about pupil achievement/progress. Deciding what to assess will be based on the curriculum objectives in each curriculum area/subject and on what the teacher intends to help the children to learn. Pupil’s progress is assessed on a continuous basis. The range of assessment methods that can be used are outlined below.

Each teacher can choose the most appropriate assessment method for the class and subject being assessed.


At its heart, assessment for learning is a way of informing and involving the learners themselves in the process of assessment.

The following methods of Assessment for Learning (Afl) can be chosen from:

· Teacher-designed tasks and tests. Teachers can refer to the Guidelines pp.54- 59 for suggestions. Also pp 89 – 90 where an excellent range of sample test questions are outlined.

Portfolios See Guidelines p. 30 – 33
Each child could assemble a portfolio of favourite work across the curriculum. Children may incorporate samples of work in 3D using a digital camera, storing work on the ipad or memory stick.

· Success and Improvement Strategy (also referred to as ‘two stars and a wish’).

Sharing the learning intention/objective and devising success criteria – ie. Telling children what they are going to learn… and agreeing the criteria for judging to what extent the outcomes have been achieved (Guidelines pp9, 70 and 77)

– We are learning to……………….. We will know when we’ve achieved this because………….

the learning objective(s) and the success criteria may be displayed on a chart/whiteboard/post it’s etc).

Teacher/peer/self evaluation in terms of these by identifying successes and improvement needs against the criteria. (See Appendix 1)

Effective teacher questioning – teachers use higher order questioning to provoke fruitful discussion. Strategies for turning recall questions into formative questions include –
Giving a range of answers. You need to give two definite ‘yes’ answers, two definite ‘no’ answers and one or two ‘maybe’ answers. E.g. which of these activities are in themselves aerobic? golf; swimming; darts; table-tennis, sky-diving; cycling.
A statement (e.g. instead of asking ‘what drugs are bad for you?’, state ‘All drugs are bad for you. Do you agree or disagree and why?)
Right and wrong – two examples/pictures, one ‘right’ (e.g. a healthy meal on a plate) and one ‘wrong’ (a junk food meal) and asking children to discuss.
Give the answer – and ask how it was arrived at.
An opposing standpoint – e.g. what would a mother whose children were starving think of shoplifting?

· Individual oral feedback – to include enabling children identify the next steps in their learning.

Quality marking by teacher – occasional pieces of work marked focusing on pointing out success and improvement rather than to mark every error in existence. On occasion ‘test’ marking will be undertaken whereby all aspects of the work will be marked e.g. a story where comments are made re. spelling, grammar, punctuation, handwriting and the overall quality of the work.
Quality marking by children. Children gradually trained to identify their own successes and improvement needs, with control gradually handed over from the teacher to the child.
Oral responses of pupils


Self-assessment is the means by which pupils take responsibility for their own learning. However, we need to train pupils to self-assess. It does not just happen!

Teachers can refer to Guidelines for Schools pp14 – 23.

Teachers can select from the following strategies to aid self-assessment as appropriate –

KWL/KWHL charts (Guidelines p. 20, 21, and 92).
What do you know about……..? (Assessment of current knowledge to inform teaching activities and learning goals)
What would you like to know about…..?
How could we find out about……..?
What have you learned about…….? How did you learn this? (Assessment of what has been learned and skills developed)
Concept maps – Guidelines pp 36 – 41
Evaluation sheets – (Guidelines pp 19 and 93)

§ What have you been learning about in……….

§ List three things you learned about this topic….

§ Were you a good team member? Give a reason for your answer.

§ What could your team do better next time?

§ Teacher comment….

Self Evaluation Questions to facilitate reflection –
Where did you get stuck? What helped you out? Have you learned anything new? Do you have any questions? What are you most pleased with? What did you need more help with? What did you find easy? What did you find difficult?
How will I know if my work is good? What can I remember and understand about…, What do I need to do to improve?
Graphic Organisers – include KWL charts mind maps, brainstorming maps and Concept maps. Also include: PMI charts (Plus, Minus, Interesting); Thumbs up/thumbs down, and Talking partners. (See guidelines pp. 84 – 85)
Reflection; Representation; Reporting. Children think about what they have been learning. They then represent what they have learned (by – drawing, concept map, brainstorm, questions, map, paragraph etc.) Children then report on their learning – to teacher; class; group; parent; partner etc.

Conferencing where appropriate/necessary. (Guidelines pp. 24 – 27)
Completed assignments by pupils – projects, copybooks, work samples, homework
Parental, pupil feedback or observation
Standardised tests
Diagnostic tests
Assessment by psychologist


Standardised tests (Guidelines pp. 60 – 69)

· The following tests are used

· MIST – in senior infants

· Drumcondra English and Maths 1st-6th classes

· Sigma Maths 2nd to 6th (Supplementary)

· MicraT English – 1st to 6th (Supplementary)

· The purpose of the standardised tests is to allow teachers to make placement and progress decisions based on assessment results and to develop appropriate interventions for certain children.

· Standardised tests are administered on a class basis by the class teacher. In the event that a pupil is absent on the day of the test the Learning Support teacher will administer the test at a later date. Pupils may be excluded from the tests if in the view of the principal they have any learning or physical disability which would prevent them taking test or newcomer pupils, where their level of English is such that attempting test would be inappropriate.

· Each child’s raw score, standard score, percentile rank, STEN and Reading age is recorded. The percentile rank and sten score is recorded on the tracking score sheets, and on computer.

· The results are communicated to parents at the parent teacher meeting. The percentile rank and/or STEN score will be given to parents with the end of term report.

· The results will determine the allocation of learning support/resource hours in the school and the nature of the support provided (in-class or withdrawal). See Learning Support policy.

Screening: (Refer to Learning Support Guidelines and Circular 02/05)

· What screening tests are used to facilitate the early identification of pupils’ learning strengths / difficulties? Mist, Drumcondra Tests

· When are screening tests administered? Sigma & Micra or Drumcondra tests are administered in May of each year. Mist is administered in the 5th term in school (Sen Inf).

· Who administers them? Teachers/ Learning support teacher

· Who is involved in interpreting results? Teachers/Learning Support Teachers and Principal.

· What emphasis is placed on early intervention programmes? The results of Screening Tests are used to provide early intervention.

· What criteria indicate that diagnostic testing is needed? Teacher Observations, parental concerns.

· How are results communicated to parents? Verbally at a meeting.

· How are parents consulted if diagnostic testing is considered necessary? Verbally, at a meeting of teacher/s/ parents

Diagnostic Assessment: (Refer to Learning Support Guidelines, Chapter 4)

· What formal diagnostic tests are used to determine the appropriate learning support for individual pupils who present with learning difficulties? NRIT, Non verbal, DST-Dyslexia Screening Test,

· Who is involved in selecting children for diagnostic assessment? Class teacher, Learning Support/ Resource Teacher, Parents.

· How are parents consulted in advance? Is there a standard form to record parents’ consent? Who makes the necessary arrangements? Parents permission is sought verbally, or written permission if outside agency involved.

· Who administers the diagnostic tests? Learning Support/ Resource Teacher

· Who interprets the results? Learning Support/ Resource Teacher

· How does the school ensure that the results of the assessments inform subsequent learning plans? Appropriate different learning interventions are initiated.

· Following testing, what procedures are used for sharing information between teachers, parents and relevant agencies (if appropriate)? Verbal meetings are held.

· If it is felt necessary to consult a psychologist (NEPS or other) about diagnostic test results, who arranges for such consultation? The Principal.

Psychological Assessment: (Refer to Circular 02/05)

· Who liaises with parents if it is felt that a psychological assessment or other assessment is required (Stage 3, Circular 02/05)? Are standard letters and consent forms used? The principal and class teacher can liaise with parents if a psychological assessment is deemed necessary. Standard consent forms are used.

· Who is responsible for requesting and arranging an assessment from specialist(s)? (Psychologist, Speech & Language Therapist, Audiologist, other…) The principal, in consultation with class teacher, learning support teacher / resource teacher and parents will usually arrange an assessment from specialists i.e psychologist speech & language etc.

· What part does the assessment play in drafting an educational plan for a pupil? Learning support / resource teacher will use assessment results accordingly.

· Where are psychological reports stored and who controls access to them?-The principal stores and controls access to psychological reports in locked cabinets.

Analysing, Recording and Reporting the results of assessment (See guidelines p70,71and 79)

· Drumcondra tests are analysed according to their instructions and recorded on a class sheet and stored in files, and on password protected computer software.

· An individual pupil file is compiled for each child. This provides a cumulative record of the child’s progress from junior infants to sixth classes. Each file contains: Drumcondra results.

· MIST results available from Learning Support files.

· Teachers have agreed terminology for reporting on children’s progress and achievement. Comments and observations will be recorded in an objective and instructive manner.

· Children keep records of spelling tests and mental maths in their copies/books.

· Parent teacher meetings are usually held in the first term. Other parent teacher meetings will be convened as required. Individual teachers can keep a brief record of issues discussed at the parent-teacher meeting. Feedback from parents may also be recorded.

· Pupil report cards are sent home annually. Written reports should be clear, concise and factual, signed by Principal and dated. A copy of each report is kept in the pupil file.

Success Criteria · A range of informal and formal assessment modes are used to place assessment as an integral part of teaching and learning.

· Procedures run smoothly and efficiently because there is clarity about what is expected and who is responsible for different aspects.

Roles and Responsibility – all teachers Implementation Date: Teachers will use some of the range of strategies detailed in this policy.


The policy will be reviewed and amended as necessary. The principal will initiate and co-ordinate this review.

Ratification & Communication

This assessment policy was ratified by the Board of Management on 7/11/12

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Scoil Bhride, Straffan, Co. Kildare, W23 CD77
(01) 627 2255