Event Title

Assessment in the early years: A symposium about measurement, applications and going to scale

Start Date

25-8-2022 12:30 PM

End Date

25-8-2022 1:30 PM

Subjects

Early childhood education, Measurement, Student assessment, Learning progressions, Sustainable Development Goals

Abstract

Assessment in the early years is seen as contentious. Yet there is significant and growing interest in knowing more about what children can do and how we can best support learning and development. This is true in global monitoring of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 with UNICEF promoting parent-report of children’s learning, health, and psychosocial wellbeing development at ages 2-5 years. It is also true in Australia’s ECEC system, with the Commonwealth Department of Education advancing a reform agenda that includes a preschool outcome measure for children in the year before school (typically 4 years old) and state jurisdictions pursuing the development of assessments (e.g. Victoria) and the use of learning progressions (e.g. Queensland). Within ECEC providers, too, significant effort has been placed on developing and deploying tools to monitor learning and to inform practice in the pursuit of better learning, development and well-being outcomes for children. There are, therefore, multiple agendas driving increased development of use of assessment in the early years: international comparative reporting, systems monitoring and improvement, assessment for learning, and research among them. Within a system that is not traditionally well-prepared or experienced in conducting assessment, it is unlikely that there is room for all these agendas to operate separately and introduce separate approaches to assessment. In this symposium, cutting-edge perspectives on early childhood assessment are provided from research, intervention, and practice perspectives. Together the symposium focuses on new perspectives on assessment and how a new approach can prioritise and focus on assessment's primary purpose – teaching and learning – while delivering on other priorities, including monitoring and research without imposing additional burden on educators and providers. The sessions take the perspective that the primary purpose of assessment in early childhood is to improve outcomes for children by supporting educators to: collect evidence about children’s learning and development; use that evidence to inform planning and practice; act in evidence-informed ways, and to reflect on and adapt their impact over time.

  • The first paper in the session focuses on the development of a high-quality measure of early learning and development focusing on oral language and literacy. The aim is to develop a measure that is authentic – focused on adult–child interactions – but that also uses contemporary measurement theory and approaches used in large scale assessment programs like OECD’s International Early Learning and Wellbeing Study to construct measures that can reliably measure the growth of individual children and also support system monitoring and reporting (without the need for additional assessment).
  • The second paper in the session focuses on the deployment of a new assessment of oral language and literacy in early childhood contexts in the Northern Territory, which is supporting educators working in a vulnerable community to improve outcomes. A focus is given on how educators can be trained to use assessment and learning progressions to target their practice to have impacts on learning and development – including across the transition to school and progression through the year levels.
  • The third paper in the session focuses on taking assessment to scale in a large ECEC provider in Australia. This includes the groundwork needed to ensure consistent assessment practice as well as to get buy-in from educators at large. The paper will report on the how evidence from assessment can be used at the individual child level, but also the provider and system level, alongside other evidence-based approaches to measurement to inform the deployment of resources and support better outcomes in underserved communities.

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Aug 25th, 12:30 PM Aug 25th, 1:30 PM

Assessment in the early years: A symposium about measurement, applications and going to scale

Assessment in the early years is seen as contentious. Yet there is significant and growing interest in knowing more about what children can do and how we can best support learning and development. This is true in global monitoring of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4.2 with UNICEF promoting parent-report of children’s learning, health, and psychosocial wellbeing development at ages 2-5 years. It is also true in Australia’s ECEC system, with the Commonwealth Department of Education advancing a reform agenda that includes a preschool outcome measure for children in the year before school (typically 4 years old) and state jurisdictions pursuing the development of assessments (e.g. Victoria) and the use of learning progressions (e.g. Queensland). Within ECEC providers, too, significant effort has been placed on developing and deploying tools to monitor learning and to inform practice in the pursuit of better learning, development and well-being outcomes for children. There are, therefore, multiple agendas driving increased development of use of assessment in the early years: international comparative reporting, systems monitoring and improvement, assessment for learning, and research among them. Within a system that is not traditionally well-prepared or experienced in conducting assessment, it is unlikely that there is room for all these agendas to operate separately and introduce separate approaches to assessment. In this symposium, cutting-edge perspectives on early childhood assessment are provided from research, intervention, and practice perspectives. Together the symposium focuses on new perspectives on assessment and how a new approach can prioritise and focus on assessment's primary purpose – teaching and learning – while delivering on other priorities, including monitoring and research without imposing additional burden on educators and providers. The sessions take the perspective that the primary purpose of assessment in early childhood is to improve outcomes for children by supporting educators to: collect evidence about children’s learning and development; use that evidence to inform planning and practice; act in evidence-informed ways, and to reflect on and adapt their impact over time.

  • The first paper in the session focuses on the development of a high-quality measure of early learning and development focusing on oral language and literacy. The aim is to develop a measure that is authentic – focused on adult–child interactions – but that also uses contemporary measurement theory and approaches used in large scale assessment programs like OECD’s International Early Learning and Wellbeing Study to construct measures that can reliably measure the growth of individual children and also support system monitoring and reporting (without the need for additional assessment).
  • The second paper in the session focuses on the deployment of a new assessment of oral language and literacy in early childhood contexts in the Northern Territory, which is supporting educators working in a vulnerable community to improve outcomes. A focus is given on how educators can be trained to use assessment and learning progressions to target their practice to have impacts on learning and development – including across the transition to school and progression through the year levels.
  • The third paper in the session focuses on taking assessment to scale in a large ECEC provider in Australia. This includes the groundwork needed to ensure consistent assessment practice as well as to get buy-in from educators at large. The paper will report on the how evidence from assessment can be used at the individual child level, but also the provider and system level, alongside other evidence-based approaches to measurement to inform the deployment of resources and support better outcomes in underserved communities.