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child assessment: Assessment in Children’s Services

by Martin Kinyua
Baseline assessment

Baseline assessment

The encyclopedia for children’s health (Guha, 2012) defines baseline assessment as the process where teachers and institutions gather, process and document information on the achievements, skills, personality variables and abilities of a child.

A Physician Examining Her Patient

While according to Vygotsky (Mohan, 2019), assessment involves taking samples from lessons learned and using the information to know the effect and the level of understanding and reception of concept as it includes samples taken on behavior, knowledge, performance and a child’s output. Nonetheless, it is continuous and involves observing and examining children’s behavior and conceptual understanding by asking questions and listening to their thoughts.

Several child experts have laid down principles on the assessments or tests to be carried on the child, and they include APA Standards for Psychological and Educational (Plake, 2014). The Early Years foundation stage is a very important juncture in a child’s life, and teachers and education institutions should ensure that they give the best.

According to Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis, and Chappuis (2004) teachers must design accurate child assessment tools that should be used to make better decisions. Teachers should also have the required skills involved in assessing and monitoring the pupils’ progress.

Erkens (2009) says that to exactly know the state of the learners, the right questions need to be asked, analyzed and worked on to the desired condition or expectation. The EYFS Baseline child assessment uses formative assessment. Research by Widiawati et al., (2018) show that formative assessments are commonly contrasted with summative assessments.

Formative assessments

Formative assessments are usually the basis for determining the impact of learning done in class and are usually conducted by the class teacher. Andersson et al., (2017) defined formative assessments as methods used by teachers to evaluate children’s comprehension, academic progress, and grasping of content during a class session, unit or the course.

The assessments are useful to teachers in determining and identifying hard to grasp concepts and skills and know the learning levels that are yet to be achieved so that if need be adjustments can be made on instruction techniques, lessons and academic support (Andersson et al., 2017). Likewise, Widiawati et al., (2018), claims that formative assessments are designed to collect vital information for improving student learning and reception during the unit.

In short formative assessments are used to strengthen the knowledge base through learning modification and in-process teaching. Formative assessments use observation, interviews, class interactions, daily work and some formal methods like performance assessments and quizzes to assess students, according to (Ataya, 2007).

Summative assessments,

Summative assessments, on the other hand, are aimed at measuring the level of understanding of content against a set benchmark. Summative assessments as described by Black (2019) aim at evaluating student’s reception of content at the end of an instructional unit, course, semester, program, or school year and grading it using a set standard. Summative assessments include midterm papers, a final project, and a recital and show whether the learning objective was reached (Zhang, 2018).

According to Popham (2008, pg. 4), formative assessments are seen as a way of improving ongoing teaching activities, while summative assessments are seen as a way of determining the effectiveness of a completed learning activity.

Formative child assessment should be however be distinguished from other summative assessments in that formative assessments are important for learning in that, they inform teachers and students and summative assessments are of learning, they inform the stakeholders on the performance of teachers and children. Whereas most summative assessments are set apart from instruction, formative assessments integrate both learning and teaching (National Research Council, 2011). But as it involves identifying outcomes and reporting them, it can be argued that perhaps Baseline is also a summative assessment.

Formative assessments

Formative assessments use observation, interviews, class interactions, daily work and some formal methods like performance assessments and quizzes to assess students, according to (Ataya, 2007). The quizzes informative assessments are however not graded but are instead used to correct the student, for instance, a musical teacher holding rehearsals before the big presentation before the judges. The rehearsals are formative while the judges’ comment at the end of the presentation is summative. Questions arise on the right age to start assessing students formally.

children assessment age

There are three age groups, infants who are below two years, preschoolers from 3 years to 5 years and primary children who are in kindergarten to grade 3 (Essa, 2012). The child assessment should, therefore, be carried out on children in the age brackets of 2 to 8 years. Children born during summer tend to be younger than their autumn counterparts, this brings the implication of summer-born children according to recent research on math and reading by SchoolDash, an educational data analytics company.

The study was conducted between 2015 and 2018 involving 1.5 million pupils in 2,000 of the 6,000-state primary school that use the RS child assessment program that was supplied by Hodder Education in England (Ball, 2018). The result shows that children born in other seasons of the year attained an average of 7.5 points more than summer-born babies. The Gap Narrows down by age 3 to 5.5% and rests at around 3.6% at the end of the primary level. The analysis shows that the gap remains significant even after completing primary school (Millers, 2017). The gap closes with time as they move through the primary grades but never disappears. Some parents prefer to delay before taking their children to school because of this concern. The study also carried out the implication of gender on average performance.

The study also found out that during the early years of primary schools, girls perform better than boys in math, but are then overtaken by year 2 and 3, until the end of primary studies. Other intriguing facts show that girls excel in geometry and operations like addition, multiplication, and subtraction while boys excelled in number work and measures which include rounding, place value, counting, and negative numbers. Ball (2018) asserts that girls also stay ahead of boys in reading assessments during the primary phase. Another factor to consider when assessing a child is their readiness for school.

Assessing A child’s readiness for school

A child’s readiness for school encompasses both the social-emotional aspect and physical development. Children should be enrolled in school when they have developed social-emotionally (Tymms 2013). The temperament theory explains how children interact with their environment, growth, and development. Childhood temperament is used to determine children that are ready to start schooling. William 2018, suggests that the temperament theory can be used by teachers to facilitate interventions and management strategies that give all temperament children early success in academics. Pianta et al., 2007 say that most children in the United States are ready for school. Wilen and Romney (Miller, 2017) deduce from kindergarten teachers that only 2/3 of the students are prepared for lower classwork.

A child who is ready for school must be of sound health, physically fit of sound, socially emotionally mature, and should be able to participate in class. The child should also take care of their personal belongings, feed independently, communicate their needs and take care of their toiletry needs (Miller, 2017). They should also have social behavior and learn to depend on themselves rather than guardians. They should also show respect for property and others, including sharing and defending themselves when need be—the ability to engage in task-related behavior that involves manipulating materials without being a nuisance to others (Kiley, 2017 & Leenknecht, 2018). children with English as an additional language also experience difficulties during their early school days.

According to the National Research Council (2011), EAL students experience difficulty during their early school phases as academic work involves reading, writing and interacting. Recent studies show that 18% of primary school-going children speak English as an additional language. Baseline child assessments for EAL students are similar to the other students in most schools. The social, economic background of a child can also affect their score in the assessment (Fitriani, 2019).

According to Zang (2018), the development and cultural characteristics of a child can be shown more in a relaxed atmosphere or setting either than in the standardized test environment. The interaction between the child and the examiner can be affected by the child’s lack of experience, gender, size, culture, and race (Kibble, 2017). Due to the delicate nature of children, there ought to be guidelines on what are EYFS being expected to assess.

According to Easton (2009), a protocol should be established based on agreed-upon conversation guidelines. Easton described a protocol as a code of conduct for a group to use during learning. She says, “By following accepted parameters for conversation, group members can have very focused conversations. Protocols help educators look at student work, artifacts or educator practice, texts relating to education, or problems and issues that surface during educators’ day-to-day lives” (p. 1). According to Blythe, Allen, and Powell (2008, pp. 11-12) the need for examination is to learn more on children respond to an assignment, learn of the instructors teaching and assessment practice, set standards for all student’s performance and gain observation and interactive skills that will be applied in the classroom for efficiency. Then how is this data being used?

The EYFS data is important to schools

The EYFS data is important to schools, regulatory bodies, parents and the children themselves (Baumgartner, 2010). Of most importance, the assessment provides teachers with information that can help to build the curriculum. According to Marshal (2008, p, 66) if instructors can find out during the lesson which concepts are not understood by which students, they can re-teach and help resolve the mystery before the knowledge gap widens due to the addition of more concepts.  It also helps to promote learning from the children’s ability and not assuming that all children’s receptive ability is the same (Baumgartner). Another reason to assess students is to diagnose, physical, mental and emotional problems that might require additional care services. According (Bloom, Hastings, & Madaus, 1971, as cited in Guskey, 2007/2008), formative progress checks must help teachers to identify each student’s learning difficulties and to offer specific remediation strategies to correct the problems. Some pupils correct their problems by trying different means while others, however, depending on the teacher (Guskey, 2017). The data from the assessment is used to identify special needs, support learning, trend evaluation, monitoring and checking competence and accountability, and program evaluation. Questions arise on whether children are aware they are being assessed.

According to Guha (2012), very young students may fail to recognize the importance and methods of testing, older children will, however, recognize and perform surprisingly well in assessments. The assessment helps them, to develop a stronger understa3nding of their academic retention in the various subjects, this will help them to know the area they will work on after recommendation from the teachers (Poet et al., 2018). This can also help them to be responsible for their learning and progression. when they understand any past weaknesses and strengths. The baseline assessment can be compared to other styles/ theories of learning, for example, Montessori and problem-based learning.

Montessori mode of learning.

Maria Montessori, a pioneer of early childhood education has made a great contribution to today’s knowledge of pedagogy. She aimed at unleashing the potential of every child individually especially the mentally ill and retarded children who learn. She recognized that pupils are active learners, who need independence and guidance from a sensitive illustrator who facilitates by creating a learning enabling environment.

Beneficiaries of the Montessori style grow into curious learners who thirst for knowledge throughout their lifetime. Montessori views the beneficiaries as ‘heralds of social change’.

(Understanding the Montessori Approach, 2nd edition (978-1-138-69053-0) Barbara Isaacs). According to Barbara Isaacs, Montessori’s critics argue that her theory does more harm than good to pupils. The theory has been criticized to give learners a lot of freedom, resulting in low supervision, this leads to fights and arguments in a bid to gain supremacy. The old suppress the young, and learners are usually not friendly ad willing to abide by the rules. Dewey sees it as a system that does not encourage creativity, and the props for the activities are expensive making it hard for parents to buy them for home exercises. Moreover, her child assessment techniques have been proven to be deficient and without order.

Problem-based learning

According to Professor Howard Gardener of Harvard University, intelligence is the ability to solve problems in one’s particular context and culture. According to Gardner (1983) the notion of intelligence has multiple reality, he described seven bits of intelligence namely, mathematical, logic, visual, musical, spatial, bodily, interpersonal and intrapersonal bits of intelligence. The need to deal with real-world challenges manifests the need for these multiple intelligences (Gardner). Robert Sternberg an IBM Professor at Yale University, asserts that intelligence in the real world encompasses more than learning how to do things, it includes the ability to perform tasks, adapt, select and shape our interactions with the environment (Stenberg 1990).






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