What is assessment? Assessment helps educators: learn about children and their interests become aware of children’s strengths and areas of their learning and development in which they may require further support and nurturing
Assessment should be fair, valid and reliable Fairness is about ensuring the assessment is accessible to students Validity refers to an assessment being consistent over time and across assessors Reliability is concerned with whether or not an assessment measures what it claims.
Assessment in early childhood Concepts such as fairness, validity and reliability are very important to implementing effective assessment - BUT early childhood education uses a broader range of ideas to frame thinking about assessing young children’s learning and development Early childhood education also considers whether or not assessment benefits children and their learning Assessment should be appropriate to children’s ages and cultural experiences Assessment should value parental input in understanding young children as learners (Nelson 1998, pp. 5-6)
Assessment as meaning-making about children’s learning Assessment as meaning-making helps educators reflect on children’s learning and developmental needs Educators use assessment to support the creation and evaluation of the curriculum they offer young children
How assessment is defined in international curricula documents Te Whariki (New Zealand Curriculum) The purpose of assessment is to give useful information about children’s learning and development to the adults providing the programme and to children and their families. (Ministry of Education 1996, p. 28)
How assessment is defined in international curricula documents The Early Years Foundation Stage (United Kingdom) Assessment plays an important part in helping parents, carers and practitioners to recognise children’s progress, understand their needs, and to plan activities and support. Ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of the learning and development process. It involves practitioners observing children to understand their level of achievement, interests and learning styles, and to then shape learning experiences for each child reflecting those observations. In their interactions with children, practitioners should respond to their own day-to-day observations about children’s progress, and observations that parents and carers share. (Department for Education 2012, p. 10)
How assessment is defined in international curricula documents Nurturing Early Learners - A Framework for a Kindergarten Curriculum (Singapore) The starting point for all adults working with young children is getting to know them: their abilities, interests and dispositions. Part of this process involves observing them carefully. This is important for several reasons: 1) planning meaningful activities; 2) pitching the level of the activities; 3) supporting the child to the next level; and 4) identifying learning strengths and potential, problems and difficulties. (Ministry of Education 2003, p. 28)
How assessment is defined in international curricula documents National Association for the Education of Young Children – Developmentally Appropriate Practice Guidelines (USA) Assessment of children’s development and learning is essential for teachers and programs in order to plan, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of the classroom experiences they provide. Assessment also is a tool for monitoring children’s progress toward a program’s desired goals. In developmentally appropriate practice, the experiences and the assessments are linked (the experiences are developing what is being assessed, and vice versa); both are aligned with the program’s desired outcomes or goals for children. Teachers cannot be intentional about helping children to progress unless they know where each child is with respect to learning goals. (NAEYC 2009, pp. 21-22)
What is the purpose of assessment? 1. Assessment helps teachers make sound decisions about teaching and learning 2. Assessment helps teachers identify significant concerns that may require focused intervention for individual children 3. Assessment helps teachers improve their curriculum planning and program provision 4. Assessment supports accountability in relation to curriculum requirements
Assessment of, for and as learning Assessment of learning is when teachers gather evidence about children’s learning and compare these against learning goals Assessment for learning is when teachers use knowledge and understanding of children’s thinking to further plan their curriculum Assessment as learning is when children reflect on their own learning and use this to forward plan what they will do next.
Integrating assessment of, for and as learning Educators use all three approaches to assessment to gain a full picture of children’s learning that helps parents understand how children are progressing, helps children to support their own learning and helps educators to forward plan curriculum
Contemporary approaches to assessment in early childhood Consider the whole child – reflecting the holistic way children learn Include groups of children – acknowledging the collaborative nature of learning Are accessible to families and children as well as to staff with a range of qualifications Provide insights into children’s interests, dispositions and learning process Include the voices of children and families (Arthur et al. 2012, p. 284)
Key terms Assessment – how teachers make meaning about children’s learning interests and play to inform curriculum planning and understandings about children’s development. Curriculum – the variety of experiences, activities and interactions children experience in an early childhood setting. Theory – explanations of children’s learning, development and play that teachers can draw on to inform how they think about using assessment and the provision of curriculum in early childhood settings.