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Implementation of assessment policy - Cyprus

Pre-Primary Education

According to National Curriculum of 2002, in pre-primary schooling teachers observe from the very first day the pupil’s behaviour and personality in order to program activities.  According to the guidelines, teachers of pre-primary should observe each pupil and keep a record giving a brief description of behaviour. Where a behavioural problem is observed, the teacher must contact the parents for discussing matters concerning the pupil’s education. 

After the first weeks in nursery school, the observations done by the teacher are written officially on an initial assessment sheet, which includes emotional goals and knowledge achievement.  It is also important for the teacher to describe the pupil’s health and mental health.

Baseline assessment is important in nursery so as to program the activities and set the goals of teaching. Records of on-going assessment are also kept.  Teachers may choose the goals that they will assess. Teachers are obliged to prepare their own means of assessment and these are allowed to differ for each pupil according to his/her needs.  Assessing pupils is a means of self-assessment for the teacher.  By assessing the pupils, teachers assess their programming, the organizing of the class, the teaching procedures and the effectiveness of teaching approaches used.  It is also a means of assessing the curricula for adopting or rejecting innovations and techniques.

If a child is considered unready to attend primary school at the age defined by the Law (5,8 years old), then the parents should apply for a suspension in starting primary school.  The Department of Primary Education studies this application in order to decide whether to give a suspension or not.  The decision is based on the views of the pre-primary class teacher, the pupil’s age and any medical or other documentation that prove that the pupil is not ready to attend primary school.  If an agreement cannot be reached between the school and the family as to whether the pupil should attend primary school or not, then the Director of Primary Education should ask the view of the educational psychologist of the school which will assess the pupil and prepare a written report stating the situation.

Primary Education

During primary school, the pupil is assessed within the class.  There are no regulations for public examinations or assessment for promotion from one grade to another.  The teacher conducts assessment for his own purposes. Since there is no standardized assessment policy (which has been standardized throughout the country), the teacher has the flexibility to choose the methods and instruments they prefer.  In some cases the head teacher may request statistics for each class and on each subject separately.  These statistics are used only for purposes of assessment within the school and not for comparison between schools.

Grading is used for the purposes of the teacher of each class.  In small classes grading is avoided as it is considered to reflect negatively on pupils gaining low scores, since pupils are put into classes of mixed abilities.  In higher classes, tests are marked with grades and taken home for the parents to see and sign.  Parents are also given feedback about their child’s progress and ranking in tests at weekly meetings with the teacher.  These meetings are optional and the parents may meet the teacher on a specific day and time each week, determined from the beginning of each school year.  If the parents are not able to attend this meeting, they may arrange another meeting in co-operation with the teacher.

There are tests for each lesson in primary school that are prepared mainly from the Curriculum Development Unit.  These assessment tools are prepared as examples in order to give teachers a clear view of what they should assess, although in many cases they are used as given and not adjusted to the needs, strengths or reality of the class.  For the language lesson (Greek), teachers mainly use the assessment tests and books that are written in Greece and used as the main tools for the lesson.  It is expected that in a couple of years, the Curriculum Development Unit of Cyprus will have prepared the country’s own language books so that they will be used as the official tools instead of the books written in Greece.  

Pupils are graded at the end of each school year, but these grades are not accessible to the pupil or the family.  They are given to the new class teacher who will be in charge of the class during the next school year. At the end of primary school, teachers put grades that are given to the gymnasium so they, too, can form classes of mixed abilities.  This is an informal procedure for passing on information to secondary education and facilitates transition.  Pupils are not informed about these grades. This procedure aims to provide information, to all those concerned for the education of the pupil, for forming classes of mixed ability, for defining goals, for improving teaching procedures and for possible developments in assessment, thus facilitating better instruction. 

The individual portfolio is a very good source to identify and organize teaching, although findings from research have shown that teachers do not use the cumulative record to identify difficulties and organize their teaching.  Policy in Cyprus does not encourage teachers to use the individual portfolio for assessing pupils or for gaining information on their strengths or weaknesses.

The teacher is free to develop any way of assessment and record keeping, although in many schools teachers use the same strategy which is to divide each test into major goals and state the level of achievement at each goal, they then categorize the difficulties and provide feedback and remediation.  The head teacher may ask teachers to use a specific way of record keeping and also ask for a copy to keep in his/her office. In some cases the head teacher may provide teachers with assessing tools or make suggestions to teachers or give his/her own tests to each class. The school inspector may also give suggestions.  No other resources of assessment are given.  

Pupils and parents see assessment as a grading procedure.  This can be a problem because it may influence the pupil and the parents psychologically in the case of low grades.

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