Evaluation of the implementation of Kei Tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning:

Early Childhood Exemplars: Impact evaluation of the Kei Tua o te Pae 2006 professional development

Publication Details

This report presents findings from an impact evaluation of the 2006 Ministry of Education funded Kei Tua o te Pae professional development programme. In 2006, this programme provided assessment professional development to licensed and chartered early childhood education (ECE) services and ECE sector organisations (tertiary level organisations).

Author(s): David Stuart, Cognition Consulting Limited with Helen Aitken and Kiri Gould, UNITEC Institute of Technology and Anne Meade.

Date Published: June 2008

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Executive Summary

The programme supported the resource Kei Tua o te Pae Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars. This resource provides a framework for developing assessment practices within a sociocultural assessment framework that is consistent with the principles of Te Whāriki, the Ministry of Educations early childhood curriculum statement. Particular attention was paid to documenting narrative assessment practices.

The evaluation was a mixed methods study involving a survey (19 services participated), case studies and interviews at 18 services, and interviews at seven tertiary level organisation interviews. The evaluation found that the 2006 Kei Tua o te Pae professional development had a positive impact on assessment practices in the case study services. Services reported substantial and sustained shifts in the quality of assessment practices over the time period of the professional development and beyond. Shifts were also reported in the amount of assessment being done and the types of assessment practices.

The reported influence of the professional development on these shifts was generally high and the professional development was positively regarded by a majority of services. Professional development characteristics valued highly by services were the quality of facilitation, the quality of the resource itself, and the benefits of service clustering for this professional development. In a number of services there was a readiness for change in assessment practices and this appears to have been a significant enabling factor for the professional development having an effect on assessment practice.

There is evidence from the evaluation that the 2006 professional development had strengthened sociocultural assessment practices in these services. Services had taken significant steps in building an assessment community of practice inclusive of educators, children and parents. Educators had established processes for linking assessment to curriculum planning, and there was extensive collaboration between educators in the noticing, recognising and responding aspects of formative assessment practice. Assessment was being made visible to this learning community through open access to assessment documentation and public displays of individual and group assessments. Analysis of learning and making learning visible through assessment was only moderately evidenced through assessment documentation. Learning dispositions, which describe the learner in action, were only moderately supported and used as a framework for recognising learning, and there was some uncertainty about their assessment utility.

Children's active engagement in the assessment process was strongly evidenced in interviews, including child voice in assessment documentation, child reflection on and analysis of assessment narratives, and the co-construction of next steps with educators. Assessment documentation rarely recorded this child engagement and its outcomes. Assessment documentation did clearly evidence a credit-based approach to assessment in that items reflected the passions, skills and working theories of individual children, and presented them as confident and competent individuals.

Many services were strongly committed to the engagement of parents in assessment and the use of parent voice. Some services had developed practices to raise the quantity and quality of parent engagement but it was acknowledged that results were mixed to date. Parent voice and its use by educators were not strongly evidenced in assessment documentation.

Bicultural and Pasifika assessment practices were rare in assessment documentation, and these were acknowledged as low focus areas of assessment practice development in these services. Many services reflected New Zealand's bicultural and multicultural society in their day to day curriculum and teaching practices but this was not often reflected in individual assessments.

A general finding across a number of dimensions of practice was that assessment documentation did not evidence the levels of quality assessment practice described at interview. Children's portfolios often did not contain evidence of continuity and development of learning, or the engagement of children and parents in the formative assessment process. While documented assessments were being used formatively, these practices rarely became part of the written narrative.

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