An analysis of the assessment of young children’s abilities and achievements
It is vital that an early years provider uses information about young children’s progress and development in their foundation skills to inform planning, identify groups, meet the needs of individuals and measure the impact of actions taken.
In building a picture of what young children know, can do and understand, an early years provider should make use of a full range of formative and summative evidence.
Formative assessment draws on sensitive, focused observations of children’s participation in normal, everyday activities, conversations with and between children, photographs, video, things children have made or drawn, and information from parents.1 It informs and guides everyday planning. Summative assessment is a summary of all the formative assessments undertaken over a long period and makes statements about the young child’s achievements.2
Providers must ensure that practitioners are observing young children and responding appropriately to help them make progress. Any assessment should be based on observation of a young child’s consistent and independent behaviour, predominantly on self-initiated activities. Other professionals3 and agencies should also be involved where appropriate.
Even very young children can make a positive contribution to an assessment of their learning, for example by showing ‘thumbs up’, making ‘I can . . .’ comments, expressing preferences and opinions during plan/do/review activities, or selecting which examples of ‘best’ work to keep and show to other people such as their parents or visitors.