2017 School Self-Evaluation – Assessment

  1. Introduction
  • The focus of the evaluation

A school self-evaluation of teaching and learning in Elphin Community College was undertaken from September 2016 and will continue until May 2020. In the fourth year of evaluation, Assessment practices throughout the school were evaluated.

This is a report on the findings of the evaluation.

  • School context

Elphin Community College is a Vocational School under the trusteeship of Galway and Roscommon Educational and Training Board.  It was established in 1942.  Our school exists to serve the educational needs of the community which we serve.  We aspire to provide an environment which acknowledges educational achievement, enhances student self-confidence, promotes life skills and attitudes which will enable students to live fulfilling lives and so contribute to the betterment of society.  We actively aspire to develop partnership between teachers, parents and the wider community.

The central purpose of the school community is the moral, intellectual, physical and social education of the student.  This Community seeks to create the atmosphere of care and concern in which the student can grow to maturity.  We fully subscribe to the principles of partnership, accountability, transparency, inclusion, and respect for diversity, parental choice and equality.

We are the only school in a small sized town in Co. Roscommon. There are currently 132 students enrolled in the school. Both TY and LCVP are well established within the school and LCA was introduced for the first time in September 2013 but due to lack of demand it has not been offered in the current academic year. As we are a small school with 14 members on the teaching staff, sometimes with only one teacher per subject department, we felt it was important that all members of the teaching staff participated in the evaluation process. All staff members have received training on One Note and Schoolbag and are encouraged to share resources with both colleagues and students.

We have eight feeder schools in our catchment area. 9 students are in receipt of resource hours.

 

  1. The findings

Learner Outcomes

  • Both Leaving Certificate and Junior Certificate results were analysed by subject departments and at whole school level. Attainment levels were below the National average in many subjects at both levels while others exceeded the National averages by large percentages. This was also true for performance at higher level in both Senior and Junior Cycle.
  • At staff meetings, student council meetings, parent council meetings and at meetings of the Board of Management, it was collectively decided to focus on assessment practices for the September 2016 – May 2020 timeframe.
  • The loss of supervised study after school was identified as an area for review by the Board of Management.

Learner Experiences

As a focus group the student council, under the guidance of the SSE coordinator, incorporated discussions on assessment within all of their meetings throughout the school year. Points were discussed at the meetings and observed in classroom practice. In their penultimate meeting the council members highlighted areas which they believed to be beneficial and areas which needed improvement in terms of assessment in learning experiences.

Areas which they found to be most effective in Elphin C.C. were:

  • Good quality feedback from most teachers within the school regarding written exams.
  • The three sets of formal exams in the school year instead of the previous two.
  • Constructive feedback relating to homework by most teachers in the school.
  • Good spread of types and level of questioning by most teachers during class to involve all students.
  • The feedback sheet attached to all formal assessments.

Areas which students identified as needing improvement included:

  • Communication between teachers and students should be respectful and some teachers need to be more approachable relating to feedback.
  • Students require clearer instructions at the beginning of the school year/term/tasks identifying schedules and goals.
  • A quicker turn around regarding homework.
  • In Senior cycle, there is a drop in the amount of questioning during class resulting in some students not becoming engaged.

 

The whole student body were also surveyed in relation to current assessment practices. Some of the key findings from this process were:

  • 62% of students experience regular questioning where they contribute voluntarily.
  • 58% of students experience regular questioning where they do not contribute voluntarily.
  • 52% of students believe they rarely or never are assessed through oral presentations.
  • Students believe that written tests and homework are the most common forms of assessment in the school.
  • The three methods which students prefer to be assessed by are
    1. Using apps such as Kohoot and edpuzzle,
    2. Group work tasks
    3. Project work
  • The least favourite method of assessment is homework.
  • 28% of students feel that they rarely receive feedback on their homework.
  • 55% of students rarely experience peer assessment.
  • The most common form of feedback is oral feedback from the teacher according to 37% of students.
  • 14% get feedback from their peers on a regular basis.
  • 74% of students feel they get about the right amount of formal assessments.
  • 45% of students feel that the success criteria for tasks is well explained by teachers.
  • 26% of students feel that the formative cover sheet on their written assessments is not productive enough.

 

Teacher’s practice

In groups of three, teachers were surveyed in relation to assessment practices within Elphin. This took place in October 2016.

The following are some of the strengths identified by teachers:

  • We provide regular feedback, written or oral, to pupils on their progress.
  • The cover sheets which we use on formal exams provide good formative feedback.
  • We provide regular records of results.
  • We utilise differentiated testing.
  • We use the journal effectively as a means of communicating progress with parents.

The following are areas identified as needing improvement:

  • Student self-assessment
  • Practices relating to peer assessment.
  • Improve feedback levels on homework to include parental input.
  • Variety of assessment methods.
  • Increase student involvement in the assessment process by including them in areas such as planning and target setting.

 

In February 2017, groups of teachers discussed assessment relative to their subject departments. These groups were cross-curricular with some staff already engaged in the implementation of the new Junior Cycle. The main areas to be improved include:

  • Matching learning intentions with Key Skills for new Junior Cycle.
  • More cross-curricular links needed to develop key skills.
  • A whole school assessment policy which is in its final stages of development needs to be in place for teachers to devise suitable subject department assessment plans.
  • Collective review of student’s work needs to take place.

During this meeting, teachers also discussed the Looking at our School 2016 document in relation to practices within the school. Having analysed student data and staff surveys, the areas chosen for improvement were the development of success criteria, formative feedback and peer and self-assessment.

 

  1. Progress made on previously identified targets identified in current SIP.

 

Literacy:

Target 1

To increase the number of first year students who read for pleasure from 46% to 53% in Year 1, 57% in Year 2 and 60% in Year 3.

  • All six actions in this area have been implemented and are continuously monitored. Regular trips to the library did not happen because students formed their own bring and borrow book scheme with the cooperation of the English Department.

Target 2

To increase the average teacher rating of their own development of group-work strategies from 3.0/5.0 to 3.5/5.0 by May 2015, to 3.8/5.0 by May 2016 & 4.0/5.0 by May 2017

  • All three actions have been implemented over the course of the 2 years.

Target 3

To increase the number of teachers sharing their learning outcomes at the beginning of lessons to 100% by May 2015 and maintain this for each year of the evaluation.
&
To increase the level of focus on the development of Literacy during lessons by increasing the percentage of teachers who feel students have an expansive vocabulary in their subject to 20% in year 1, 30% in year 2 and 35% in year 3.

  • 4 out of 5 actions have been implemented. Staff have adapted different techniques instead of a Keyword journal where they have received relevant in-service and training.

 

Numeracy:

Students will use their iPad as a “show me board” on a regular basis in class to estimate their answers and show to the class prior to calculation.

  • This step is regularly used during teaching and Learning although alternatives to using the iPad are used effectively also.

 

All subject departments will include a section of estimation within their schemes of work for each group in first year.

  • This should be reviewed annually by each subject department.

 

All numeracy based questions in tests are to include an estimation box which students enter their estimated answer prior to calculation.

  • This is included in the adjusted assessment process in the school which happens at ten week intervals.

 

All classes are to display a common numeracy based terms poster where teachers and students can refer to for common terms.

  • All teachers received the finalised version of the poster which is now displayed in all classrooms and is accessible to all staff through the school server.

 

During Maths week, every subject department should designate one of their class periods for each group to a lesson based on Numeracy activities within their subject.

  • A large level of cooperation from staff and students was observed throughout maths week in both years to date and this will continue annually.

All subject Department plans must include a section which indicates Key Numeracy Terms used within their Department.

  • All staff were required to include this section and refer to it regularly within their lessons.

 

Each Teacher will receive and additional sticker from last year which indicates “Numeracy based techniques used” which will be used at the end of each lesson to revise techniques used within the lesson.

  • This was presented to each staff member at the start of the year and should be used in the summary of most lessons.

 

Transition Year students will coordinate a weekly maths based competition where a numeracy based problem/riddle will be displayed on the Maths noticeboard.

  • Maintaining momentum in this strategy has proven difficult in its first two years, a wider spread of coordination may be more effective.

 

Homework and Study Skills

Teachers will demonstrate a variety of study skills and techniques at the end of each section/chapter. (Also demonstrate the use of examinations.ie as a study aid.)

  • Teachers have demonstrated effective techniques relative to their own subject area.

 

All subject departments will include a section of study skills and techniques within their schemes of work for each subject.

  • This is ongoing and should be included within all subject department folders.

 

Organise a study skills & planning seminar for parents & students early in the 2016/17 academic year.

  • The principal and guidance counsellor coordinated a study skills session.

 

Teachers will devise a study plan/schedule for their subject with the students.

Teachers will indicate a suggested timeframe for each set of assigned homework using Schoolbag.

  • Not all teachers engaged with schoolbag. As a new supplier is being sought for the 2017/18 academic year, this area needs to be revisited in September 2017.

 

Subject Departments will discuss/evaluate in their meetings what are effective approaches for their subjects.

  • This has been on the agenda in most subject department meetings.

 

On a trial basis, one evening per week will be assigned as a study evening. This will be reviewed at an early stage to identify if it is being utilised in an effective manner by both students and teachers.

  • Staff found that this was very difficult to coordinate and it was decided to remove this strategy.

 

Homework will be a key area for discussion at parent teacher meetings where parents may use the opportunity to ask for advice on study approaches within each subject.

  • This opportunity was available for all parents and many chose to discuss methodologies.

School Self-Evaluation Report legislative and regulatory checklist

  • The school is now fully compliant with all legislative and regulatory requirements as per the checklist.

 

  1. Summary of School Self-Evaluation findings

 

4.1 Our school has Strengths in the following areas

 

Teachers

  • We provide regular feedback, written or oral, to pupils on their progress.
  • The cover sheets which we use on formal exams provide good formative feedback.
  • We provide regular records of results.
  • We utilise differentiated testing.
  • We use the journal effectively as a means of communicating progress with parents.

Students

  • Good quality feedback from most teachers within the school regarding written exams.
  • The three sets of formal exams in the school year instead of the previous two.
  • Constructive feedback relating to homework by most teachers in the school.
  • Good spread of types and level of questioning by most teachers during class to involve all students.
  • The feedback sheet attached to all formal assessments provide relevant information which students can learn from.

WSE-MLL

  • The quality of teaching was good or very good in most lessons observed.
  • Classroom interactions were respectful and inclusive. Classroom management was very good in all lessons. Students’ efforts were regularly affirmed and teachers circulated to monitor progress during the majority of lessons.
  • There were very good examples of peer assessment and peer collaboration used to consolidate learning in a few lessons. This also facilitated students to review their own work. This practice is commendable and should be shared with the entire staff group.

 

4.2 The following areas were prioritised for improvement at an SSE Meeting in May 2017.

 

  • Sharing and development of success criteria with students.
  • Improvements in formative feedback.
  • Increase student exposure to peer and self-assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix to School Self-Evaluation Report:

legislative and regulatory checklist

 

 

IssueRelevant legislation, rule or circularIs the school fully meeting the requirements of the relevant legislation, rule or circular?If no, indicate aspects to be developed
Valid enrolment of studentsM51/93 Yes  No

 

Repeating a year – conditions to be metM2/95 Yes  No
Time in school

–   Length of school year (minimum of 167 days for all year groups)

Length of school week (minimum of 28 hours for all year groups)

Circular M29/95 

Yes  No

 

 

Yes  No

 

 

Standardisation of school yearCircular 034/2011 Yes  No
Procedures for making September returns to the DepartmentCircular 56/2009, and instructions issued annually regarding return deadlines Yes  No
Annual returns to the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB)Education and Welfare Act 2000 Yes  No
Arrangements for parent/teacher and staff meetingsCircular M58/04 Yes  No
Implementation of national agreement regarding additional time requirementCircular 25/2011 Yes  No
Development of school planSection 21 Education Act 1998

 

 Yes  No
Engagement with school self-evaluation processCircular 40/2012
Whole-school guidance planSection 21 Education Act 1998 Yes  No
Guidance provision in post-primary schoolsEducation Act 1998 (section 9(c)), Circular PPT12/05, Circular 09/2012, section 4 Yes  No 

 

Delivery of CSPE to all junior cycle classesCircular M12/01, Circular M13/05 Yes  No
Exemption from the study of IrishCircular M10/94 Yes  No
Implementation of national literacy strategyCircular 25/2012 Yes  No
In-school management structuresSection V Education Act 1998, Circular 04/98, Circular M29/02, Circular 22/2009, Circular 08/2013 Yes  No
 

 

Limited alleviation on filling posts of responsibility for school year 2011/12

 

 

Circular 53/2011

 

 

Yes  No

 

 

 

Parents as partners in education

 

Circular M27/91

 

Yes  No

 

 

 

Implementation of child protection proceduresCircular 65/2011

 

Please record the following information in relation to child protection

 

Yes  No

▪ Number of cases where a report involving a child in the school was submitted by the DLP to the HSE

 

▪ Number of cases where a report involving a child in the school was submitted by the DLP to the HSE and the school board of management informed

 

▪ Number of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made

 

▪ Number of cases where the DLP sought advice from the HSE and as a result of this advice, no report was made and the school board of management informed

 

 

0

 

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

 

5

Implementation of complaints procedure as appropriate

 

 

Section 28 Education Act 1998

 

Please record the following information in relation to complaints made by parents during this school year

 Yes  No

 

 

▪ Number of formal parental complaints received

 

▪ Number of formal complaints processed

 

▪ Number of formal complaints not fully processed by the end of this school year

 

 

1

 

 

1

 

 

0

 

 

Refusal to enrol

 

 

Section 29 Education Act 1998

 

Please record the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year

 

 

N/A

 

 

Number of section 29 cases taken against the school

 

Number of cases processed at informal stage

 

Number of cases heard

 

Number of appeals upheld

 

Number of appeals dismissed

 

0

 

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

0

Suspension of studentsSection 29 Education Act 1998

 

Please record the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year

 

Number of section 29 cases taken against the school

 

Number of cases processed at informal stage

 

Number of cases heard

 

Number of appeals upheld

 

Number of appeals dismissed

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

0

 

0

 

 

0

 

0

 

Expulsion of studentsSection 29 Education Act 1998

 

Please record the following information in relation to appeals taken in accordance with Section 29 against the school during this school year

 

 

Number of section 29 cases taken against the school

 

Number of cases processed at informal stage

 

Number of cases heard

 

Number of appeals upheld

 

Number of appeals dismissed

 

 

 

0

 

 

 

0

 

0

 

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

Appendix to School Self-Evaluation report: policy checklist

PolicyRelevant legislation, circulars, guidelinesHas the policy been approved by the Board of Management?If no, indicate aspects to be developed
Enrolment policySection 15(2)(d) of Education Act

Equal Status Acts 2000-2011

 Yes  No
Code of behaviour, including anti-bullying policy[1]Circular M33/91

NEWB guidelines

Section 23, Education (Welfare) Act 2000

Equal Status Acts 2000-2011

Anti-bullying Procedures for Primary and Post-primary schools 2013, and Circular 45/13

 Yes  No
Attendance and participation strategy[2]Circular M51/93

Section 22, Education (Welfare) Act 2000

 Yes  No
Health and Safety StatementHealth and Safety Act 2005

Section 20

 Yes  No
Data protectionData Protection Act 1988

Data Protection (Amendment Act) 2003

 Yes  No
Special educational needs policy[3]Education Act (1998)

Equal Status Acts (2000 to 2011),

Education (Welfare) Act (2000),

Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act (EPSEN)[4] (2004)

Disability Act (2005))

Yes No
Social, personal and health education(SPHE)/Relationships and sexuality education (RSE) policyCirculars 37/2010, 23/2010, M27/08, M11/03, M22/00, M20/96, M4/95

 

Yes   No
Substance use policyDepartment of Education and Skills Directive; guidelines issued to schools in 2002

 

 Yes  No
Internet acceptable use policyNational Council for Technology in Education (NCTE) Guidelines, 2012 Yes  No
Child Protection PolicyCircular 0065/2011 Yes  No

 

[1] Under the provisions of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000) (section 23) the school’s code of behaviour should conform to the specifications stated.

[2] Under the provisions of the Education (Welfare) Act (2000) (section 22) the school’s attendance strategy should conform with the provisions stipulated.

[3] Section 9 of the Education Act (1998) requires a school to “use its available resources” to identify and provide for the educational needs of those “with a disability or other special educational needs.”

[4] The EPSEN Act requires that schools be inclusive of and provide an appropriate education for students with special educational needs.