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Preamble - Ireland

Since 1998, special educational provision in the Republic of Ireland has changed extensively. Schools and the educational system as a whole now include students with special educational needs in their mainstream planning and programmes to an extent that could not have been envisaged 10 years ago. As described in the 2007 national report to the European Agency for Development in Special Needs and Inclusive Education, the rate of change has been rapid and has had challenging implications for the provision and practice of assessment.

In the context of the educational system as a whole, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment defines assessment as: 

the process of gathering, recording, interpreting, using, and reporting information about a child’s progress and achievement in developing knowledge, skills and attitudes.

In the context of the preparation of an Individual Education Plan, the National Council for Special Education defines assessment as: 

a systematic process of gathering information in order to make appropriate educational decisions for a student. It is a progressive process identifying the student’s strengths and needs, and results in the design and implementation of selected educational strategies. Assessments can vary and include both formal and informal processes which involve observing the child in the classroom or school yard, assessing a child’s reading, spelling or maths skills and finding out about the general level of ability.

These definitions are complementary and both have been drawn on in the preparation of this Report.

Assessment may also refer to the process of assessment by professionals external to the school with a view to identification of additional resources needed for pupils with significant special educational needs.

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