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@beyondlevels conference: Early Years Assessment

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@beyondlevels conference: Early Years Assessment

  1. 1. Dr Julian Grenier grenier@outlook.com @juliangrenier Assessment in the early years: chore or celebration of children’s learning?
  2. 2. A first challenge • In this discussion I am talking about how EYFS Development Matters is being used, and not saying this is how it was intended to be used. • Huge amounts of assessment information are being collected using the framework in many schools.
  3. 3. How much assessment? • There are about 570 bullet-point statements in Development Matters
  4. 4. • With the common practice of breaking down each band into beginning, developing, secure, stages: • In a nursery class where children’s levels of development range from 16-26, 22-36, 30-50 months - there are 9 levels across 17 aspects = 153 levels to assess. • And some schools still require “evidence” for each assessment….
  5. 5. • There are 141 children aged 3 and 4 years old on roll at Sheringham Nursery School. • There are 18 aspects in Development Matters • That adds up to 18 x 141 = 2538 cells of data and looks like…
  6. 6. But… • What we have been able to do effectively with that information is pick up on children who are at risk of making poor progress.
  7. 7. But… • We have focused professional dialogue about those children, link more with their parents and develop more planning and provision for them. • This works – and we don’t want to lose that.
  8. 8. A second challenge • “Doing observations” can be experienced as a time- consuming demand by many staff working with young children.
  9. 9. Chores • Jayne Osgood quotes Delia, one of the practitioners in her study, discussing the “stress of report writing, record keeping and all those other chores”. Osgood comments that “Delia’s reference to “other chores” is indicative of the perceived laboriousness of current expectations in nursery practice.” • Osgood, Negotiating Professionalism (2012, p.127)
  10. 10. A third challenge
  11. 11. • Sometimes so much time is spent photographing children and taking notes on iPads etc. that opportunities for extended interaction, play and teaching are lost. • This distorts pedagogy away from interaction. • Does the device re-frame the way we see children? Is that helpful?
  12. 12. A fourth challenge • The workload involved is potentially huge. • Either that ruins teachers’ lives, or they find themselves collecting the information but not having enough time to analyse or use it.
  13. 13. A fifth challenge • Practitioners are encouraged to think this is all about “tracking” or “reporting” … and not about learning
  14. 14. And a final challening thought… • Do we really want to find ourselves talking to parents about children’s learning in terms of ages? • How might it feel as a parent of a four- year-old to be told that your child’s development is like a two-year-old’s (e.g. “in the 22-36 month band”)?
  15. 15. EPPE Project on assessment • The EPPE Project found that the most effective settings used formative assessment. • The researchers noticed two common practices which appeared to be ineffective.
  16. 16. Ineffective assessment and feedback • Non-specific praise e.g. “good boy”. Dweck and others have argued that this sort of feedback, which ignores process and effort, can lead children to choose unchallenging tasks in order to gain more praise – fixed vs. growth mindsets
  17. 17. Ineffective assessment and feedback • Throwing children back on their resources e.g. a child comes up with a partially completed inset jigsaw and the practitioner says “why don’t you try again?” • If the child had the resources to complete what she or he wanted to do, they would have done it…
  18. 18. 2012 review of the EYFS • Are we making much progress on this key recommendation?
  19. 19. What Ofsted say about early years assessment
  20. 20. Working collaboratively with a range of schools Two Teaching School Alliances working with a large group of maintained nursery schools in East London have come together for critical reflection and joint practice development.
  21. 21. Early findings and thoughts • Often assessments end just at the starting point where something exciting is being proposed, theorised, or experimented on by a child.
  22. 22. Early findings and thoughts We would like to have less of the discourse of ‘tracking’, more of the discourse of celebrating learning, and thinking about how it might be extended further.
  23. 23. Early findings and thoughts • We want to prioritise children’s thinking “in action” over descriptions of activity or merely trying to achieve “coverage”.
  24. 24. We want to think carefully about • accuracy – accurate assessment will lead to richer dialogue, better support at transition, and better planning for learning • effectiveness – as we develop our assessment practices, do we see improving quality of teaching? Improving outcomes? If we don’t, is this working?
  25. 25. Early findings and thoughts • Some of the New Zealand practices, including Learning Stories and the concept of “keen observation”, have helped to develop our thinking. • Dalli et al. (2009) “keen observation” in Quality early childhood education for under-two- year- olds: What should it look like? A literature review • Carr and Lee (2012) Learning Stories
  26. 26. Can you help? • We are very keen to receive more feedback, challenges and ideas to help this process • @juliangrenier or grenier@outlook.com

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