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Enriching teaching and learning with new assessment methods has been identified as a key ambition for the coming years in Irish Education (Action Plan for Education 2016-2019). Student assessment to inform educational planning remains a core component of any good educational system. The purpose of the assessment process, as envisaged under the EPSEN Act (2004) and as subsequently outlined through the NEPS Continuum of Support guidelines, is focused on identifying student educational needs so as to inform the development of teaching and learning plans for students. (Supporting Students with Special Educational Needs, NCSE, 2014).


Assessment is about building a picture over time of a student’s learning progress across the curriculum. It is the process of gathering, recording, interpreting, using and reporting information about a student’s progress and achievement in developing knowledge, skills and attitudes. Assessment is described as having four functions (NCCA, 2008)

  • Formative (identify needs, modify curriculum, & create learning context and adopt teaching strategies)
  • Summative (Summary for reporting)
  • Evaluative (of mediation of the curriculum)
  • Diagnostic (identifies areas of difficulties)

There are two interrelated and complementary principles that emphasise two aspects of assessment that are central to the teacher’s work

  • Assessment for Learning (AfL)-The teacher uses evidence on an ongoing basis to inform teaching and learning
  • Assessment of Learning (AoL)-The teacher uses information from AoL for reporting, particularly to parents and other teachers.

Useful Documents

Assessment Instruments (including tests and web-based resources) approved for use for guidance and/or learning support in post-primary schools from May 2017 until further notice Circular Letter 0035/2017

Glossary of Assessment Terminology

Aistear Guidelines on Assessment

Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools (NCCA, 2007)

Junior Cycle Assessment 

Junior Certificate Schools Programme Statement (NCCA, 2010)















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