The National Curriculum Framework for All (NCF), launched in 2012, identifies assessment as an integral part of the teaching and learning process in primary education. This document emphasises the importance of valid and reliable assessment methods to support learning, analyse each child’s performance, reflect on practice, plan for further learning of individuals and groups of pupils and allow for consistent recording and reporting on each child’s overall performance.
Formative assessment is the main form of assessment taking place during the primary cycle. Primary school teachers establish each child’s stage of development in different aspects of learning, through a process of assessment for learning. Such assessment information is then used to plan for and direct the next step/s in the child’s learning process.
In the primary years, everyday interactions between teachers and pupils in oral and written work and other activities together with pupil-pupil interactions provide valuable information about each child’s learning progress. Parents can view the written feedback on the child’s workbooks and copybooks, and discuss the child’s progress during parents’ days.
In early years (Kindergarten up to Year 2) teachers assess students mainly through observation, questioning and feedback. Assessment aims at giving an indication on the development of students based on five main areas.
Teachers input the child’s level of achievement vis-à-vis learning outcomes three times a year (once per term) for all students from year 3 upwards. Apart from the ticking of learning outcomes, teachers of Years 4, 5 and 6 also input continuous assessment marks twice a year: in the second term, around February, and at the end of the school year. The ticked learning outcomes and continuous assessment marks are made available online to parents/guardians.
No summative assessments are held in Kindergarten or the first three years of primary education. From Year 4 onwards formal summative assessments are introduced in conjunction with the other forms of assessment. Students in Years 4-6 sit for centrally-set national annual examinations held at the end of the school year in June. The subjects that are tested in these examinations are Maltese, English Mathematics and Science. The examinations in Maltese and English assess not only writing and reading skills but also speaking and listening skills. All four components are represented individually and collectively in the result reports received by parents/guardians. In mathematics, a mental assessment is included which carries 20% of the total mark in the annual examination papers. Examination marks are based on a 100-point scale.
Both continuous assessments and summative assessments contribute to the global mark given to the student. The table below presents the percentage of continuous and summative assessments in Years 4, 5 and 6:
|Table 5: Percentages of Continuous and Summative Assessments in Years 4,5 & 6
The results of the annual examinations and the global mark, are made available online and sent to the parents/guardians after each examination session.
Classes are generally grouped according to birth date in Kindergarten. Primary schools are encouraged to promote mixed-ability classes. However, from school year 2014/2015, some Primary schools, mostly ones with larger cohorts,_have adopted a procedure for the grouping of pupils based on the standardised mean scores of the aggregated results obtained in Maltese, English and Mathematics. The global mark is used to group pupils into bands from which the different classes are formed. This banding exercise has resulted in classes having a pupil ability range that is broad but more restricted than it used to be As from school year 2023/2024 the results for Science will also be included in the global mark used for the banding exercise in the latter two years of Primary.
Progression of pupils
During the primary cycle pupils are promoted from one year to another, thus, in Malta progression in primary schools is automatic.
All pupils move from the primary to the secondary cycle with no formal certification at the end of primary education. The results obtained by pupils in the End-of-Primary Examination (Year 6 National Annual Examination from scholastic year from 2023-2024), are conveyed to the secondary school to inform the school administration of the students’ abilities and any areas of concern that need to be addressed in the secondary cycle.