“Studying children, which is the heart ofassessment, helps teachers discern whychildren do what they do, what makesthem smile and laugh, and what tasksare difficult for them.”- Spotlight on Young Children and Assessment p.18
ObservationContinuousassessment throughobservation anddocumentation ofeach child’sdevelopment is anessential part of theprofessional practicein early childhoodsettings. (p.80)Observation is themost important aspectof assessment in theKindergartenclassroom and shouldbe an integral part ofall other assessmentstrategies. (p.8)Educators usemonitoring strategiesof observing, listening,and asking probingquestions in order tomonitor children’sachievement. (p.23)
ObservationAssessment is viewedas the gathering ofevidence throughobserving what thechild can do, say andapply. (p.80)Assessment strategiesshould encouragechildren to show whatthey know and cando, ratherthan focus on whatthey do not know orcannot do. (p.9)Monitoring strategiesshould encouragechildren to show whatthey know and cando, rather than focuson what they do notknow or cannot do.(p.23)
ObservationPlay is how children makesense of the world and isan effective method oflearning for youngchildren. Ideas and skillsbecome meaningful; toolsfor learning are practiced;and, concepts areunderstood. Play engageschildren’s attention when itoffers a challenge that iswithin the child’s capacityto master. (p.15)Play is a vehicle forlearning. It providesopportunitiesfor learning in a context inwhich children are at theirmost receptive. (p.14)Generic worksheets,however, should be usedwith caution; they arerarely effective becausetheir focus is narrow andthey provide only limitedassessment information onthe children’s level ofunderstanding. (p.16 & 19)Play is a vehicle for learningand lies at the core ofinnovation and creativity. Itprovides opportunities forlearning in a context inwhich children are at theirmost receptive. Play andacademic work are notdistinct categories for youngchildren, and learning anddoing are also inextricablylinked for them. (p.8)
ObservationFamilies and othercaregivers can contributeto assessments that arebased on observation anddocumentation. They canbring forward what ismeaningful to the childand expand practitioners’understanding aboutwhere the child is at andwhat the child can do.(p.81)It is especially important inthe early years for parentsto be involved indiscussions regardingtheir child’s progress. Theteacher should gather asmuch information aspossible from theparents and consult withthem when assessing thechild’s adjustment toschool and progresstowards achievement ofthe learning expectations.(p.10)Monitoring children’slearning anddevelopmental progressthrough observation anddocumentation makes theprocess of learning visibleto children and to theirparents. Parents can takepart in ongoing monitoringby contributing their ownobservations anddocumentation of theirchildren’s learning athome. (p.24)
ObservationDocumentation of youngchildren’s learning mustincorporate informationfrom a variety of means,including observation incomfortable and naturalsettings, learning stories,samples of children’s workand parental input, inaddition to well-researched tools. (p.83)They should be givenample time todemonstrate theirachievements throughvaried learningopportunities that areappropriate for their stageof development and thatare within the range ofthings they can do withand without guidance(in their zone of proximaldevelopment). (p.9)To allow for the range of influencesthat may affect a child’sperformance at any one time,teachers base their evaluation onthe cumulative observations anddocumentations the educator teamhas gathered. (p.24)They should be given ample time todemonstrate their achievementsthrough varied learningopportunities that are appropriatefor their stage of development andthat are within the range of thingsthey can do in their zone ofproximal development with andwithout guidance. (p.24)
“Standardized assessment should not bethe cornerstone of evaluation.Assessment is based on observations ofthe child in a variety of situations and isnot always tied to a teacher-directedtask.”- The Kindergarten Years : Assessment Practices Handbook p. 2
What are we assessing?Missed or limited opportunities?
The power of play : anabundance of learning andassessment opportunities
“Generic worksheets, however, shouldbe used with caution; they are rarelyeffective because their focus is narrowand they provide only limitedassessment information on thechildren’s level of understanding.”- The Kindergarten Program 2006 p. 16 & 19
Some things to thinkabout......Are we assessing what we think we areassessing?Are we assessing what we should beassessing?
Time for questions anddiscussion.....Assessing your assessment strategies?
ReferencesThe Kindergarten Program 2006, Ministry of Education, OntarioEarly Learning For Every Child Today: A framework for Ontario early childhoodsettings, 2007, Best Start Expert Panel on Early LearningSpotlight On Young Children and Assessment (2004) D. Koralek. The NationalAssociation for Education of Young Children.Every Child Every Opportunity: Curriculum and Pedagogy for the Early LearningProgram, 2009, A compendium report to “With Our Best Future in Mind:Implementing Early Learning in OntarioKindergarten Instructional Practices Handbook (Peel District School Board,Program Services)