Assessment determined by data is not helping young children’s learning

(Martina Tasone, University of Melbourne)

Melbourne, Nov 27 (The Conversation) Children are important for their social, emotional and intellectual development from birth to the age of eight. However, early years education in Australia is fragmented.

It operates in two ways, the pre-compulsory period, often called early childhood education, and the first three years of compulsory schooling.

These three years in recent times have focused on assessments that produce numerical information. Teachers need to demonstrate that children are meeting standards.

In contrast, the pre-compulsive years focus on observing and interacting with children. This trend is based on the belief that all children have abilities and are capable learners.

A gulf has arisen between these different education systems. Children go from playing to taking exams in the blink of an eye. This sudden change in the education of young children is the problem.

What does research tell us about the early years? A 2015 review of research on best practices in the early years identified key factors for successful teaching and learning. The review noted the importance of:

A smooth transition between pre-schooling and compulsory schooling.

sports based learning

Seeing children as capable of communicating their learning and being able to achieve it, involving rich discussions between children and between children and teachers. Australia has introduced a compulsory curriculum in primary schools and a national assessment programme. This means that in many early years teachers have taken a more formal and narrow approach to teaching in schools, the review said. It is not suitable for small children.

On the one hand, teachers need to acknowledge the needs of children from birth to the age of eight. On the other hand, for children in the age group of five to 12 years, teachers are required to assess and report curriculum standards.

The focus on formal assessment and numerical information in the early years of schooling means that children under the age of six can be labeled a failure. In countries such as Finland and Singapore, which have been identified as high performing countries, children do not even begin formal schooling before the age of six or seven.

let the kids be kids

It is time to revisit the formative years of schooling and ensure that teachers have the necessary skills and understanding to help learners at this stage. This year should be a time when children are busy and excited to learn, a time of great joy, and a time when children are allowed to be children.

The Conversation Neha Prashant



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