Assessment in early childhood education supports positive outcomes for children by informing the programme and teaching practices of the setting.
Assessment in early childhood education is most often formative and used to plan interactions with children, activities and programmes in the immediate future. Formative assessment can be formal, involving reflection and analysis in relation to documented observations, or informal, occurring in the moment as teachers observe, listen to and participate in children’s activities. Summative assessment is focused on informing others about children’s learning and achievement over time.
Assessment enables teachers to give feedback to children and families, and extend children’s knowledge, skills and achievements. Assessment can also be used to evaluate and improve pedagogies, environments and teaching interactions. Documentation of children’s learning can be used to encourage family participation in assessment, invite a range of perspectives and interpretations, and effectively communicate the complex and holistic nature of children’s learning in the early years.
Case studies indicate the transformative power of learning stories in terms of their positive effect on children’s reflection on themselves as learners and on family involvement in assessment practices. Research in New Zealand and internationally shows that the sharing and use of assessment information that highlights learning and progress over time helps children see themselves as competent, confident learners, and makes transition to school more likely to be successful.
"Early childhood perspectives are often overlooked in educational resource provision – it's fantastic to have our own information, which will help us cater for very young learners."
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