From The NAEYC Standards:

Standard 3: Observing, Documenting, and Assessing to Support Young Children and Families

Candidates prepared in early childhood degree programs understand that child observation, documentation, and other forms of assessment are central to the practice of all early childhood professionals. They know about and understand the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment. They know about and use systematic observations, documentation, and other effective assessment strategies in a responsible way, in partnership with families and other professionals, to positively influence the development of every child.

Key elements of Standard 3

3a: Understanding the goals, benefits, and uses of assessment – including its use in development of appropriate goals, curriculum, and teaching strategies for young children

3b: Knowing about and using observation, documentation, and other appropriate assessment tools and approaches, including the use of technology in documentation, assessment and data collection.

3c: Understanding and practicing responsible assessment to promote positive outcomes for each child, including the use of assistive technology for children with disabilities.

3d: Knowing about assessment partnerships with families and with professional colleagues to build effective learning environments

How I Strive to Uphold This Standard in my Practice

Teaching Strategies: GOLD

To record and track the progress of my students using Teaching Strategies: GOLD, an assessment tool that helps measure student development on a scale relative to widely held expectations for their age group. I take extensive notes, photos, and gather anecdotal evidence on each and every student. I use this information to gauge student progress according to the scale. I then use this information to determine students’ areas of strengths and areas for growth and make decisions about how to use instruction, play, and activities to move them forward.

An example of opportunities I have found for data collection can be seen in this presentation I made about a two month project done in my classroom: Three Little Piggs

I was able to use my own notes and photos, as well as student work from this project in order to assess all 20 of my students on 22 dimensions under Teaching Strategies GOLD. For a list of all the learning objectives and dimensions addressed by the data collected throughout the course of this project, see this document: Gold Standards in PIg Project.

In order to address these standards, I took detailed notes on student work. I interviewed students to hear their own words and took samples from their writing and math activities. As I went along and looked at students’ abilities within the project, I used the information gathered in order to inform decisions about the project moving forward. For instance, when I noticed that students were not showing strength in Comparing and Measuring, I gave a lesson on comparing measurements and then added the requirement that students must measure lengths of tape before adding them to the project.

Helping Families be Partners in Learning

GOLD benchmarks are sent home on a trimester basis. I have learned from experience and parent interviews that many parents have trouble understanding reports and that this often leads to confusion or anxiety. As such, I am mindful about putting my own notes into these reports to help parents to understand the data. For example, “Please note in this section that C____ has made progress and has moved from slightly below grade level expectations in counting to the lower end of grade level expectations for this skill. We are excited by his progress and expect to continue to see growth!” In addition to these notes, I make time in parent-teacher conferences to discuss student progress. I come to meetings with stock samples of what age-appropriate work looks like so that parents get an idea of where their students stand relative to expectations. This works to allay concerns of nervous parents who fear that their children aren’t progressing appropriately. It also helps to express to parents that more support is needed. In these cases, I also bring suggested activities that the parents can do at home to help accelerate student learning. This way, parents are duly recognized as equal partners in student learning.

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