Students that entered 1st year in September 2019 were the first cohort of students undertaking a full programme under the new Framework for Junior Cycle.
As all new subject specifications include ongoing feedback, formative assessment, CBAs, assessment tasks as well as final examinations, there is a need to avoid ‘over-assessment’ and to minimise the cumulative burden on students and teachers of multiple assessments across the full range of subjects.
In this context, the Classroom-Based Assessments will substitute for other assessments currently undertaken in the school such as in-house examinations. Schools should examine their own assessment policies and must plan for the replacement of in-house examinations with Classroom-Based Assessments for students, where relevant.
It has been longstanding SEC policy, and DES policy (prior to the establishment of the SEC), to provide sample papers in the autumn of the examination year for the programme in question.
This to allow the curricular changes, and the associated changes to teaching and learning to become embedded. This is supported by the programme of continuous professional development that is specifically focussed on the systemic curricular and pedagogical changes involved.
To introduce the specifics of the final assessment at any earlier point in the process would distract from this fundamental requirement to focus on the teaching, learning processes, and content aspects of the curricular change. The consequence of acceding to requests for earlier publication of sample papers would result in an examinations focus too early in the change process, rather than on the curriculum content, and critically on the teaching and learning processes. This is particularly important in the context of Junior Cycle Reform, which is promoting a very different approach to assessment and feedback to students to assist their learning over the course of Junior Cycle, away from the traditional focus on external terminal assessment through the state examinations.