Overview of Assessment
In order to take account of the breadth and variety of learning within the enriched Willow curriculum, the school uses a wide range of assessment tools.
These range from:
- Informal tools such as: teacher observation, classwork, homework and discussion with pupils to more formal tools such as diagnostic tests and standardised tests. (It should be noted that informal -but professional - observation by class teachers is the day-to-day method of monitoring pupil progress in Willow).
- Assessment tools such as projects, portfolios and curriculum profiles are used to link formal and informal approaches.
- In planning teaching, learning and assessment procedures, teachers in Willow select those that best meet their needs at a particular time.
- Assessment for Learning (AfL) – as an ongoing means of assessment, informing the delivery of the curriculum and teaching in the class room to individual learners is growing within the school. In September 2012, Staff Inservice focussed on AfL and this approach is currently permeating assessment and learning within the classroom.
- - Willow traditionally places importance on regular homework and Staff are both encouraged to set appropriate and relevant homework throughout the school week and correcting same in a positive manner.
Assessment within particular Forms:
Junior Infants, Senior Infants & 1st Form
These classes partake in many exploratory and suitably structured learning scenarios.
All boys are closely monitored regarding general development and progress by their teachers and the learning Support Team.
Teachers and Parents liaise regularly throughout these early school years.
Homework is introduced as learning evolves.
An end of year report is written by the teacher, based on her/his professional observation of the pupil.
2nd to 6th Form
Formative assessment takes place throughout the school day. This includes homework and the traditional Willow Park fortnightly reviews booklets.
- Homework allows pupils to review work done in class and gives the class-teacher an insight into a pupil’s progress and understanding.
- Progress Booklets are marked every two weeks.
(The school attaches a great deal of importance to these Fortnightly Progress Booklets. They are filled in by class teachers and signed off by school Deans and Parents. Parents are expected to peruse them and sign off accordingly on a fortnightly basis).
Summative assessment is structured as follows:
- There are a series of tests at the end of the Christmas and Summer terms. Christmas Reports are sent (2nd - 6th) to parents giving gereral test results and comments by class-teachers on a pupil's progress, involvement in school life and extra-curricular activities. All classes get a Summer, end-of-year report.
- Class tests may occur at various times throughout the school year at the behest of the class teacher and Form Group.
- Parents are afforded the opportunity of discussing their son’s progress in the School with class teachers on an informal basis. However, parents must remember to arrange a mutually suitable time for such brief discussions as teachers have a primary care care to their classes throughout the school day.
- A more formal setting for discussing pupil's progress is at the annual Parent-Teacher meetings. (see School Calendar).
As noted below, parents' may contact their son’s Class-teacher or Dean at any time during the school year and arrange an appropriate time to meet and discuss issues of concern/interest.
A whole school assessment is regularly undertaken in both English and Mathematics using standardised norm referenced tests (see below). The results of these are primarily used for school planning and learning support purposes.
The Learning Support Department endeavours to ensure that there is an appropriate system of identification of the special needs of pupils at all stages of their progress through the school and that there is an adequate, co-ordinated and continuous response to the special needs identified (See SEN Policy).
The school also uses:
- Standardised Tests in English and Mathematics
- A number of subtle ‘tests’ take place for screening purposes in Senior Infants, including: the Drumcondra Test of Early Literacy & Numeracy plus MIST - Middle Infant Screen Testing .
- Incidental Tests
In cases where a more detailed assessment is required, the school advises partents, in accordance with our learning support policy.
Formal assessment procedures are seen to confirm these school-based methods and cannot be used in isolation.
As noted above, in the Senior Infant classes we use formal screening to help in the early identification of difficulties - hearing, vision, speech and language, social skills, learning readiness, pre-reading and pre-number skills.
Formal methods include regular ‘tests’, such as spelling tests, tables tests, end of year or end of term tests to inform teachers of what pupils have learned and retained.
Standardized tests also come into the category of formal assessment. In the first term of each year a Standardized Test in English is administered and in the third term a Standardized Test in Mathematics (is administered by the class teachers in consultation with the LS team). These tests are designed and standardized for use in Irish Primary schools and span all classes from First to Sixth Class. The functions of these tests are:
To provide teachers with information about how literacy and numeracy performances compare with those of children nationally;
To assist teachers in identifying those children who would benefit from supplementary teaching;
To establish the literacy and numeracy levels of advanced pupils and to assist teachers in making decisions regarding appropriate materials and strategies.
The results of these assessments are given as Sten Scores(with a verbal descriptor).
Results are given to parents as part of the annual parent/teacher meetings. It is important to remember that these tests only measure certain skills and tasks. For that reason it is recommended that results are always given at a meeting with parents so that the context and skills can be discussed.
In Senior Infants – A number of subtle ‘tests’ take place for screening purposes, including: the Drumcondra Test of Early Literacy & Numeracy plus MIST - Middle Infant Screen Testing .
These provide a comprehensive screening diagnostic assessment that identifies early literary difficulties. These test are used to:
- assist teachers in identifying those children who would benefit from supplementary teaching;
- establish the literacy levels of advanced pupils and to assist teachers in making decisions regarding appropriate materials and strategies.
Following class screening, individual assessment of literacy and numeracy by the learning support team and class teacher may take place (in consultation with parents) to determine if a pupil might benefit from supplementary teaching.
Progress in all subjects varies from child to child and consequently the rate of progress - rather than the ranking in the class- is the primary consideration .
Other ‘tests’ may be introduced - depending on the needs of the situation and appropriately developed tests. All testing is done in a sensitive and caring manner.