Classroom-Based Assessments (CBA) are probably the most misunderstood part of the New Junior Cycle. Despite a call for many years to move away from the pressures of a single exam at the end of third year, many students fail to see the benefits of CBAs.
Part of a duel assessment system, the Junior cycle now has classroom-based assessments in 2nd and 3rd year and a final, externally set and marked, state exam. The aim is to encourage independent learning and develop skills for school, work, life and further study
While these aims are laudable, a mindset change is required in order to see the benefits of classroom-based assessments. Parents can struggle with fact that CBAs do not directly carry marks for the final grade, as only the final Assessment Task is sent to the State Examinations Commission along with the Final Exam. The Assessment Task counts for 10% of the overall grade in the subject.
But CBAs are part of the overall Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA). The JCPA gives a rich picture of student progress, learning and achievements across the three years of Junior Cycle. It reports on State Examinations, Classroom-Based Assessments, Wellbeing, Other Areas of Learning and, where relevant, Level 1 and Level 2 Learning Programmes. The JCPA is issued from the school within the calendar year of the examination.
This is a seismic shift in how success is measured. The language of reporting marks/grades has also changed. For CBAs the results are: Yet to Meet Expectations, In line with Expectations, Above Expectations, Exceptional.
Classroom-based assessments contribute to and build on the use of formative assessment in the classroom. They happen during normal class time and resemble the learning that occurs daily. They capture the knowledge and skills that are not easily assessed in a timed pen and paper type examination and are assessed at a common level by the class teacher
There are two CBAs for each subject; the first one in 2nd year and the second in 3rd year. These could range from project tasks, oral language tasks and investigations, to practical or designing and making tasks, field studies and artistic performances.
Subject teachers hold a Subject Learning and Assessment Review (SLAR) meeting after each CBA. Here, teachers share and discuss samples of their assessments of student work and build a common understanding of the quality of student learning.
Each SLAR is subject-specific, lasts 2 hours and facilitated by a teacher of the subject. The objective of the SLAR is to ensure consistency and fairness, develop a collegial professional culture and build confidence about the judgments that teachers make.
Curriculum change is a complex, multi-layered process which takes place over the medium to long-term. For parents, it can be daunting, as our experience of school and study is now very different from that of our teenagers. It is important to listen to Junior Cycle students & engage with them to understand better what their classroom experience is.
Two questions can help – ask WHAT the student learned in school today (as opposed to what did they do) and HOW did they learn it?
To find out more about our one to one study course Study Success, our Junior Cycle Iridescent Program or our other age-appropriate Programs contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org