Pupil assessment is both formative and summative and focuses on pupils’ learning processes as well as on their overall learning outcomes. It should also be consistent with the learning objectives established in the three-year educational offer plan (Piano triennale dell'offerta formativa - PTOF) of each school and with the National guidelines for the curriculum. In the PTOF, the Teachers' assembly of each school also defines the methods and criteria for assuring that pupil assessment is equal, transparent, and fair.
Teachers are responsible for the assessment of pupils of their class. Teachers assess their pupils daily, at the end of each term, and at the end of the school year (that coincides with the last term). In fact, for assessment purposes, the school year is organised into terms that usually last from three to five months, according to school regulations. Pupils do not take final examinations at the end of primary school.
All the teachers for a given class participate in the assessment procedure (known as scrutinio): subject teachers, support teachers, teachers of Catholic religion or of the alternative activities depending on each pupil’s choice, and all other teachers who have carried out activities in the class.
From school year 2020/2021, the periodic and final evaluation of pupils' learning outcomes in each subject is expressed in descriptive judgements (Law 41/2020). The National guidelines for the curriculum establish the specific learning objectives for each subjects and schools adapt them to their own curriculum that is included in the educational offer plan (PTOF) of the school. Teachers evaluate pupils' learning outcomes based on the achievement of the learning objectives set for each subject and assign one of the following four levels: advanced, intermediate, basic, in the process of first acquisition. Each level corresponds to a detailed definition that schools must include in their own PTOF. Definitions should refer to four aspects of the learning process: the pupil’s level of autonomy in reaching the learning goals; the type of situation, known or unknown, where the pupil has carried out his/her task; the resources used to complete the task; the continuity in the pupil’s learning process. In the evaluation document, teachers can link the level reached to the formal description drawn up by the school or, instead, to a personalised descriptive judgement, always considering the four aspects required. The Ministry has published an Ordinance and Guidelines to provide operational guidance to schools and examples of descriptive judgements (Ordinance 172/2020).
Class teachers evaluate each pupil’s behaviour through a synthetic report assessment. Pupils’ behaviour assessment refers to the development of the competences of citizenship.
Teachers of Catholic religion and teachers of the activities alternative to Catholic religion evaluate pupils through separate synthetic reports describing the interest shown in the subject and the results achieved.
Up to school year 2019/2020, periodic and final evaluation were expressed in numerical marks out of ten (from 0 to 10), corresponding to ten learning levels. A mark equal or higher than 6/10 meant a sufficient attainment of the learning targets expected for the relevant level of education. However, a mark lower than 6/10 did not affect pupil’s progression to the next grade.
Special dispositions apply for the assessment of pupils with special educational needs and hospitalised pupils. In the case of hospitalised pupils teachers at hospitals work always in collaboration with the teachers at school to share all the useful elements for the pupil's assessment. The same applies in case of pupils unable to attend school or to sit for the final examinations for health reasons and receiving education at home. In case the times of hospitalisation are longer than frequency at school, the assessment is carried out directly by the teachers of the classes in the hospital.
The National Institute for the Evaluation of the Education System (Istituto nazionale per la valutazione del sistema di istruzione e formazione – INVALSI) carries out the external national standardised assessment of pupils. National standardised testing of pupils takes place during the second and fifth grades of primary school, within the month of May. National testing in the second grade aims at verifying pupils’ learning attainment levels in Italian and Mathematics, while in the fifth grade it covers also English. Tests in English must be consistent with the Common European framework of reference for languages (for further details please visit the official website of Invalsi dedicated to standardised tests).
Pupils progress to the next grade also in case they did not entirely achieved the learning goals. Class teachers can decide for grade retention only in exceptional cases and by unanimous vote. Decision must be motivated.
Progression of pupils
Pupils are admitted to the next grade of primary school and to the first year of lower secondary school even if they have not achieved the expected learning targets. At periodic or final assessment, the school warns families of pupils with insufficient results and autonomously organises specific measures and actions to help pupils improve their learning results. Grade retention is exceptional and decided by all class teachers upon unanimous decision and specific motivations (D.Lgs 62/2017).
Pupils do not take exams at the end of primary school. In fact, primary school, together with lower secondary school, is part of the first cycle of education and the Italian Constitution establishes that final exams are held only at the end of each cycle of education.
Both at the end of each period and at the end of the school year, pupils receive the personal assessment paper that schools autonomously draw up (D.Lgs 62/2017 and Guidelines for the assessment at primary school, 2020). The personal assessment paper shows:
- the learning targets and the level reached for each subject
- the description of the four levels: advanced, intermediate, basic, in the process of first acquisition
- the short report assessment of the pupil's behaviour
- the short report assessment for Catholic religion/alternative activities
- the description of the overall learning process and development reached
The assessment paper is delivered in electronic format; however, families usually discuss the results with teachers.
At the end of primary school, pupils receive a certification of the competences achieved. The certification of competences refers to the 'Student's profile’ included in the National Guidelines for the curriculum that describes the subject and citizenship-related competences each pupil is expected to hold at the end of the first cycle of education. Moreover, the certification of competences must refer to the eight key competences for lifelong learning defined at European level (2006/962/EC) and consider important competences developed by pupils through non-formal and informal learning. Competences are evaluated through a four-level scale, each level described with explanatory indicators. Schools (teachers) draw up the certificate. The Ministry has provided schools with the model valid nationwide for the certification of competences (annex A to the DM 742/2017). Pupils do not receive a specific certification attesting the completion of primary school. Pupils receive the certification at completion of the first cycle of education, of which primary school is the first segment and which ends with the end of lower secondary school.