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June 07, 2007

The Pudding

The results are in!  After nine months of instructing and assessing in various forms, I have comprehensive data on my students’ growth in literacy.  How did they do?  Each child achieved an average of 80 percent or better on a wide range of literacy assessments!

Because pre-k children often don’t show you everything they know or can do with one type of assessment, I used two types of assessments and incorporated all the objectives from each into my calculations.  One type were performance-based assessments that include anecdotes and work samples collected while the children play and interact throughout the day.  I supplemented these with standardized assessments administered by me to each child to test skills like letter identification and rhyming words.

Overall, 10 children out of 14 achieved 100 percent on the standardized assessments and 9 achieved 90 percent or higher on the performance-based assessments.  I’m especially impressed by the individual gains made by the children, such as:

  • Awana, who often struggled to move forward in letter identification and listening skills, in the end achieved 85 percent on the standardized assessments and 83 percent on the performance-based assessments.
  • Tanasia, who started off the year too shy to even come to school the first day, achieved 100 percent mastery on the standardized assessments and 88 percent on the performance-based assessments.

I realize some in the early childhood community are skeptical of the extent to which standardized assessments are developmentally appropriate.  I agree that such tests could potentially produce inaccurate results, given the young age of my students.  I try to reduce the potential for inaccuracies by identifying the assessments as “fun games to play with the teacher,” which can help the children feel more at ease and less stressed by the experience.  I ask students if they would like to play with me, and many times they jump at the chance to spend some one-on-one time with the teacher, especially since they get to press the “easy” button (thanks, Staples) when they finish.  I remember Tyrique expressing sadness that he could not play our “game” a second time.

Consistency between the scores given by the two types of assessments suggests that these techniques can help produce more reliable results from the standardized variety.  The results also show general consistency between the two kinds of assessments.

Standardized assessments are necessary in my case because the kindergarten teachers who will have my students next year use them and not performance-based assessments.  This begs the question, of course, why are kindergarten teachers not using performance-based assessments?  I think they should use some combination of the two, at a minimum, to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their students’ strengths and needs.

I am very proud of my students’ growth and know that the combined efforts of Ms. Morrison, Ms. Bimba, each child’s family, and me contributed to their success.

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Comments

In order to assess early childhood students they must be comfortable with the person and the assessment. Using standardized test on student who don't know you and may or may not understand what you what from them is not the way to start off the school year. Often the scores do not reflect where the student left off at the end of the year because he/she was comfortable with the assessor. Performance based assessment gives a truer picture.

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