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What Should I Put in my Assessment Folder?

Source: InTouch April 2012

The assessment folder should be seen in the broader context of what we understand by the term assessment: "Assessment is the process of gathering, recording, interpreting, using, and reporting information about a child’s progress and achievement in developing knowledge, skills and attitudes" (Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools, NCCA, 2007, p7). The assessment folder supports your assessment practice by providing a dedicated place for you to gather and record relevant information on the progress and achievement of the whole class and individual pupil learning. This information or evidence of learning is gathered using a variety of assessment methods during the year. Gathering the information about the child’s learning is not an end in itself but only the beginning of the process. How you use the information gathered is a key part of the assessment process.
The information you gather and record in the assessment folder serves two purposes:

  • Reporting on the child’s learning progress and achievement to parents and other relevant people such as the SEN teacher, the principal or the school psychologist. This use of the assessment information is called Assessment of Learning (AoL).
  • Identifying the next steps to be taken to improve the child’s learning. This approach to assessment is called Assessment for Learning (AfL). For example, you might ask "What does this sample of the child's work tell me about what I now need to do to help him/her improve?"

So what might be included in an assessment folder?
Section A: General class records
This section includes standardised tests results, class checklists, class test results, etc.
Section B: Pupil profiles
This section can be divided into subsections i.e. one per child. The following information may be included for each child: child’s name, class level, interests, strengths, learning needs, P/T meetings: dates, issues, actions taken, observations regarding subject areas (always date observations), selected samples of child’s work (dated). A small number of carefully selected work samples gathered during the year are more meaningful and useful than having large quantities of samples in a folder. When selecting samples of children’s work for inclusion in the assessment folder consider how they will support you in reporting learning progress to parents and others (AoL) and in identifying the next steps needed to improve the child’s learning (AfL). It is also very important that the child chooses some samples of work for inclusion in the assessment folder.
Important points to remember

  • Check with the school principal when finalising what assessment data you will include in the folder. The school’s assessment policy may have implications on what you include in your folder.
  • Enter facts only when recording your observations and date any observations made.
  • Store the assessment folders in a secure place. Check the school’s policy on record keeping.

Where can you find information on assessment methods?
Assessment in the Primary School Curriculum: Guidelines for Schools, (NCCA, 2007) is an extremely useful resource to help support and develop your assessment practice. It includes information on a range of practical assessment methods that support learning in the classroom. Here are some examples:
self-assessment – (pages 14) and self-assessment techniques including rubrics, traffic lights, thumbs, and KWL grids (pages 84-85). Questioning – (page 42) and sample questions based on Bloom’s taxonomy (pages 86-88). You could use these sample questions to create an A3 classroom poster for your classroom, to support higher order questioning. Teacher-designed tasks and tests – (page 54) and sample test questions (page 88-90). The Assessment guidelines also include practical information and examples about other assessment methods such as conferencing, portfolio assessment, concept mapping, teacher observation and standardised testing. Check out the sample activity on reporting standardised test results to parents (pages 60-66).  

The Assessment for Learning (AfL) resources at complement the Assessment guidelines. The resources include:

  • Video footage of classroom lessons showing teachers using the AfL approach to support children’s learning.
  • Multi-media clips of teachers sharing self and peer assessment techniques from a range of classes.
  • Samples of children’s work showing how AfL can support teacher judgement.

Finally, always remember the purpose of the assessment folder when considering what to include in the assessment folder. The assessment folder should support you in reporting on a child's learning progress and achievement to parents and others (AoL) while also helping you to identify the next steps to be taken to build on and develop the child’s learning. The assessment folder is a key element in supporting effective teaching and learning rather than an end in itself.  

NIPT would like to acknowledge the contribution of Noel Loftus, NCCA for his contribution on the design of the NQT assessment workshop.

Mary Burke is Co-ordinator of the National Induction Programme for Teachers.