Authentic Assessment in Preschool

A Critical Component of Best Practices in Intentional Teaching

As parent-teacher conferences approach, I am reminded of a typical question posed by preschool parents, “Why send home ‘report cards’ in preschool.” Whether they sound premature, invasive, or just superfluous, allow me to share the reasons for and benefits of using report cards in preschool – both for parents as well as teachers.

Progress reports are part of our ongoing commitment to communicating how children are working towards goals and objectives across the different domains of learning and development. Assessment, as scary as it may sound, is a critical component of intentional teaching and the foundation of best practices today. Ann Epstein, in her book The Intentional Teacher, states that “best practice requires us [teachers] to think about what we are doing in the classroom and how it will foster children’s development and produce real and lasting learning.” It is the WHAT behind the WHY we do what we do and the core of intentional teaching.

I believe authentic assessment it is the secret sauce to any successful school experience.

Simply put, assessment is a tool for monitoring children’s progress towards curriculum goals. At its core, it supports teachers in the process of getting to know each individual child as a human being that is full of potential. Using this knowledge, we are able to develop an understanding of each child’s strengths, challenges, and opportunities for growth.

When monitoring preschool student progress, there is no formal testing. We promise!

Preschool assessments, when done right, come in the form of daily observation along with annotated records – written, objective documentation of what we see using our understanding of child development as our lens. Using observation along with annotation has the following advantages as defined in the book, Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum:

  • It is nonintrusive for the child.
  • It yields instant, credible information that has on-the-spot utility for improving interaction and instructional strategies.
  • It has important value for formulating hypotheses or speculation to evaluate.
  • It can be used in virtually any setting.
  • It allows the teacher to capture, in a natural setting, important data that could not be obtained by other methods.

Research has shown that tracking children’s growth and development in preschool is important to support later academic learning and life-long success.

At BCD, we believe that sharing assessment information is an essential ingredient to building collaborative and reciprocal relationships with parents. We strive to communicate everything that we are doing to support your child’s growth and development in all areas of our curriculum. We strive to share this information through daily communication at drop-off and pick-up times, in teacher newsletters, personal emails, parent and teacher conferences, and sometimes in personalized meetings during which we discuss specific concerns regarding a child’s development. We hope that when reading your child’s progress report that you will feel the time, energy, love, and care that we have for your child. We want to ensure that our reports are easy for families to read and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.

Finally, remember that your child’s trimester progress report is one small aspect of how we communicate what’s happening at school. Our ultimate goal is to nurture your child’s sense of confidence and competence – that sense of “I am. And – I can.” that will hopefully propel your child through life.

We enjoy working in partnership with you.

– Kath Courter, Head of Preschool

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