Assessment in Primary Schools: A Guide for Parents (December 2008) 30/11/2008

4. Special uses of Assessment Information

Schools use assessment to identify students who will benefit from special programmes.

Assessments for students with special learning needs and abilities

Teachers use assessment information to decide which students need extra support or extension. Classroom teachers, resource teachers, and other specialists use extra assessment tools and processes to identify and monitor the achievement and progress of students with special needs.

Schools use assessment information to identify students with special gifts or talents in aspects of learning. They share this information about why the student has been selected for a special Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programme. Information about progress and achievement in these programmes is usually sent to the class teacher and included in reports to parents.

Current assessment practices enable staff to identify students requiring additional support or extension. These students receive targeted support through both in-class support and withdrawal groups.

- Education Review Report on a decile 2 contributing school

Extra Support

Assessment information is used to identify students who need extra help in learning basic skills. For example schools have support programmes in reading, mathematics, writing, and oral language.

Reading Recovery is used in many schools to help young students who have difficulty learning to read. Teachers use assessments like the six-year diagnostic observation survey to find out which students require extra learning support.

Specially trained reading recovery teachers provide Reading Recovery programmes.

This ERO report describes assessment in a school with a Reading Recovery programme that has helped students to make significant gains.

The school uses a variety of assessment tools to effectively identify individual students’ needs in reading. Classroom teachers use appropriate diagnostic tools and focus on analysing students’ understanding of what they read and use this information to inform ongoing planning. Teachers provide targeted learning opportunities in reading comprehension.

- Education Report on a decile 6 contributing school

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Speech, Language Therapy

JOST (see earlier this section) is used to identify students who need help with speech or language development. Students may be referred to a speech, language therapist (SLT). The therapist works with the child and meets parents to discuss ways they can help the child’s speech development at home. Parents are sent copies of reports about achievement and progress.

English as a Second or Other Language (ESOL)

Special English programmes for students from a non-English-speaking background (NESB) may be provided as part of the normal class programme or as a withdrawal ESOL programme. The class teacher uses assessment tools to find out how good the student’s English is and to decide the best programme for them. The progress of students who are taking part in an ESOL programme is also assessed.

The following extract comes from the international students section of the ERO report on a school where about seven percent of the students come from Korea.

On their arrival in the school, students are assessed using a combination of picture dictation, reading comprehension, writing samples and listening.

- Education Review Report on a very large decile 1 intermediate school

Moving to a new school

When students move to a new school or a new class the achievement information their school has collected should go with them. This will help the new teacher to know what the student already knows and what they can already do.

When a student enrols in a new school, the new school asks the previous school for their assessment information.

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