This report presents the Education Review Office’s findings on the quality of assessment in early childhood education.
ERO evaluated the quality of assessment in 389 early childhood services that ERO reviewed in Terms 3 and 4, 2006. Of the early childhood services reviewed 239 were education and care services, 101 were kindergartens, and 49 were playcentres.
The Ministry of Education is currently supporting the implementation of the early childhood assessment exemplars, Kei Tua o te Pae. ERO’s evaluation took place at the end of the second year of a five-year professional development programme for the implementation of Kei Tua o te Pae. Services were at varying stages in their understanding and implementation of assessment practices, as not all had yet participated in professional development.
The framework for developing these exemplars was based on the four principles ofTe Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. A key element of this approach to early childhood assessment is that the perspectives of children, their parents and whānau, as well as the educators at their service all contribute to children’s learning and development. Assessment informs the service’s programme, educators’ teaching practices, and supports positive learning outcomes for children.
ERO found that the quality of assessment varied within each service and between services. In about two‑thirds of early childhood services, policies and structures for assessment were working well, and assessment practices reflected the four principles of Te Whāriki. Factors that contributed to good quality assessment in an early childhood service related to the processes and support structures in the service, the shared understanding and practice of educators, and active and meaningful participation in assessment by children, parents, whānau and other educators.
The reflection of children’s learning and development in assessment, the use of assessment to inform learning, and the contribution of assessment information to ongoing self review needed improvement in half the services. In these services educators did not give children opportunities to contribute to assessment, or to revisit and reflect on their learning. Similarly, parents and whānau were not meaningfully involved in assessment practice.
This evaluation has highlighted the need for high quality professional development and sufficient time to allow educators to fully understand the purpose of assessment processes and practices, and to use assessment information effectively in the planning and evaluation of programmes.
ERO notes that for the forthcoming 2008/09 year, the Ministry of Education has identified four groups of services for professional development providers to focus on:
The findings of this national evaluation report endorse the Ministry’s strategic approach to professional development for assessment in early childhood education.
ERO recommends that early childhood educators:
ERO recommends that early childhood services management:
ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education: