The new Junior Cycle is an exciting three year learning journey which includes new approaches to teaching, learning and assessment. Students will experience newly developed subjects and short courses and will find that their learning has a significant focus on key skills and wellbeing. All students now experience and take part in these new approaches to learning and assessment.
The Framework for Junior Cycle is designed to support the kinds of learning experiences that help students connect to and engage positively with learning. Through its breadth and flexibility, it encourages innovation and supports creative learning in the classroom.
In moving away from a focus on a terminal centrally provided examination, it re-positions assessment where research tells us it matters most - in classrooms. Classroom Based Assessments and Assessment Tasks are an integral aspect of the Junior Cycle curriculum.
The new curriculum specifications for Junior Cycle subjects are outcomes-based. English, Gaeilge and Mathematics is taken at two levels: higher and ordinary, whereas all other subjects are common level.
All First Year students in Dominican College are given a wide subject choice to include all of the following: Gaeilge, English, Maths, Modern Foreign Language (French, German and Spanish), Business, Geography, History, Physical Education, Religious Education, Social Personal Health Education (SPHE), Civics Social Political Education (CSPE), Digital Media Literacy (DML) and choice subjects of Visual Art, Science, Music and Home Economics.
Subject specifications are replacing the old syllabuses. These new specifications set out expectations for students through learning outcomes that ‘describe the knowledge, understanding, skills and values students should be able to demonstrate after a period of learning’ Framework for Junior Cycle 2015. For each subject specification see www.curriculumonline.ie
The key skills of Junior Cycle are required for successful learning by students across the curriculum and for learning beyond school Framework for Junior Cycle 2015. The key skills are part of the process of lifelong Learning, activated by the teacher through a range of teaching strategies and developed by the student through learning experiences.
Imagining Exploring options and alternatives
Implementing ideas and taking action
Stimulating creativity using digital technology
Managing Information and Thinking
Being curious Gathering, recording, organising and evaluating information and data
Thinking creatively and critically
Reflecting on and evaluating my learning
Using digital technology to access, manage and share content
Managing Myself Knowing myself
Making considered decisions Setting and achieving personal goals
Being able to reflect on my own learning
Using digital technology to manage myself and my learning
Communicating Listening and expressing myself
Performing and presenting
Discussing and debating
Using language Using number Using digital technology to communicate
Working with others
Developing good relationships and dealing with conflict
Co-operating Respecting difference
Contributing to making the world a better place
Learning with others Working with others through digital technology
Being healthy, physical and active
Being social Being safe Being spiritual
Being positive about learning
Being responsible, safe and ethical in using digital technology
Developing my understanding and enjoyment of words and language
Reading for enjoyment and with critical understanding Writing for different purposes
Expressing ideas clearly and accurately
Developing my spoken language
Exploring and creating a variety of texts, including multi-modal texts.
Expressing ideas mathematically
Estimating, predicting and calculating
Developing a positive disposition towards investigating, reasoning and problem solving
Seeing patterns, trends and relationships
Gathering, interpreting and representing data
Using digital technology to develop numeracy skills and understanding
A new dual approach to assessment increases the prominence given to classroom-based assessment and formative assessment: students learn best when teachers provide feedback that helps students to understand how their learning can be improved. Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) are completed during normal class time. They will closely resemble what happens on a daily basis in the classroom.
CLASSROOM BASED ASSESSMENTS
Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) are completed during normal class time. They will closely resemble what happens on a daily basis in the classroom. They provide students with opportunities to demonstrate their understanding and skills in a way which would not be possible in a formal examination. The tasks will cover a broad range of activities including oral presentations, written work of different types, practical or designing and making activities, artistic performances, scientific experiments, projects or other suitable tasks. A particular purpose of the Classroom-Based Assessments will be to facilitate developmental feedback to students.
CBAs are best described as the occasions when the teacher assesses the students using the specific tasks set out in the curriculum specification for each subject. THey were developed to help assess skills that cannot be easily assessed in a traditional pen-and-paper exam. They are completed within the teaching time allocated for each subject. The CBAs and the Features of Quality, which support teacher judgement, are set out in Assessment Guidelines for each subject. The assessment is similar to the ongoing assessment that occurs every day in every class. In the case of Classroom Based Assessment the teacher’s judgement is recorded for the purpose of subject learning and assessment review, and for the school’s reporting to parents and students.
Students prepare for the Classroom Based Assessment over specified periods of time in 2nd and 3rd Year. The results of other projects, homework, or tests undertaken by the students in the course of their normal classwork do not add up to the award of a descriptor for the Classroom-Based Assessment.
What is important for them in the CBA experience, is what they have actually learned about themselves throughout the CBA. Here, it is important for your daughter to reflect upon how it has helped them to engage with the subject and their personal growth while examining the feedback as a tool to enable them to progress further in the future.
Deciding the level of achievement for the Classroom-Based Assessments:
There are four level descriptors of achievement for each CBA; teachers use the Features of Quality, set out in The Assessment Guidelines for each subject to decide the level of achievement in each CBA. The Features of Quality are the criteria used to assess the student work as best fitting one of the following descriptors:
EXCEPTIONAL describes a piece of work that reflects the Features of Quality for the Classroom-Based Assessment to a very high standard. While not necessarily perfect, the strengths of the work far outstrip its flaws, which are minor. Suggestions for improvement are easily addressable by the student.
ABOVE EXPECTATIONS describes a piece of work that reflects all of the Features of Quality for the Classroom-Based Assessment very well. The student shows a clear understanding of how to complete each area of activity of the investigation, and the work is praised for its rigour. Feedback from the teacher might point to the necessity to address some aspect of the work in need of further attention or polishing, but, on the whole the work is of a high standard.
IN LINE WITH EXPECTATIONS describes a piece of work that reflects most of the Features of Quality for the Classroom-Based Assessment well. It shows a good understanding of the task in hand and is free from significant error. Feedback might point to areas needing further attention or correction, but the work is generally competent and accurate.
YET TO MEET EXPECTATIONS describes a piece of work that falls someway short of the demands of the Classroom Based Assessment and its associated Features of Quality. Perhaps the student has made a good attempt, but the task has not been grasped clearly or is marred by significant lapses. Feedback will draw attention to fundamental errors that need to be addressed.
NOT REPORTED describes when a student has not submitted any piece of work for assessment. When using the Features of Quality to assess the level of student achievement in a Classroom-Based Assessment, teachers use ‘on-balance’ judgement. The teacher will read the Features of Quality (starting with Yet to meet expectations) until they reach a descriptor that best describes the work being assessed. Where it is not clearly evident which descriptor should apply, teachers will come to a judgement based on the evidence from the student’s work to select the descriptor that best matches the student’s work overall. This ‘best fit’ approach allows teachers to select the descriptor that ‘on balance’ describes the work being assessed.
Subject Learning and Assessment Review Meetings (SLAR)
The teachers in each subject will meet during a Subject Learning and Assessment Review. Subject Learning and Assessment Review meetings enable teachers to collaboratively reach consistency in their judgments of student work against common, externally set Features of Quality. Greater understanding of standards and expectations will develop over time as teachers come together in professional discussion to reflect on the quality of their own students' work, informed by the subject specification, assessment guidelines and other support material including annotated examples of students' work provided by the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment (NCCA). During this meeting teachers will review their initial descriptors awarded to students to check for consistency with the Features of Quality.
For further information www.curriculumonline.ie
The written Assessment Task (AT), marked by the SEC, will be specified by the NCCA and relates to the learning outcomes of the second Classroom Based Assessment. Students will complete the Assessment Task under teacher supervision. It will be completed after the second CBA at the end of 3rd Year in the defined period of time for that subject. The AT facilitates students in highlighting key learning points gained as the student undertook the 2nd CBA. It is also an opportunity for students to refer to skills and competencies that were developed during the CBA and describe ways in which their learning may be applied to new situations.
State Exams are set, held and marked by the State Examinations Commission in June of 3rd Year.
The State examination that students sit in their subject at the end of their junior cycle is graded as follows:
Distinction 90 to 100 %
Higher Merit 75 to 89 %
Merit 55 to 74 %
Achieved 40 to 54 %
Partially Achieved 20 to 39 %
(not graded) 0 to 19 %
English, Irish and Maths are specified at Higher and Ordinary levels. Irish & Maths are common level in 1st Year.All other subjects are specified at a Common Level - Religion, Science, Business, Geography, History, Music, Visual Art, Home Economics & Modern Foreign Language.
State Exams will be no longer than two hours duration in a maximum of ten subjects.The examination paper and the Assessment Task are sent to the State Examinations Commission or grading.
JUNIOR CYCLE PROFILE OF ACHIEVEMENT
The Junior Cycle Profile of Achievement (JCPA) will report on student’s achievement across a broad range of areas of learning in Junior Cycle. The JCPA provides a clear, broad picture of a students’ learning journey over the three years of Junior Cycle. It will include:
- • Grades in the state-certified final examinations (both existing and new Junior Cycle Subjects)
• Achievement in Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs) in new Junior Cycle subjects
• Student written reflection on participation and or progress in other areas of learning that may have been included in the school’s Junior Cycle programme.
OTHER AREAS OF LEARNING
In the ‘other areas of learning’ section the JCPA reports on other learning experiences, events and projects that students have participated in outside of the schools Junior Cycle subjects, for example:
• Student engagement with co-curricular or extra-curricular activities offered by the school such as engaging in a science fair, participation in the school’s sporting activities, drama and debating etc
• Specific learning opportunities that do not form part of subjects, for example: leadership training; activities relating to guidance; membership of school clubs or societies; membership of our student council
Student learning in the areas of Wellbeing including CSPE, SPHE, DML, PE and Wellbeing.