Assessments measure a student's ability and track his progress as he improves his skills. The progress aspect makes assessment an ongoing process for teachers. An evaluation at the beginning of the year creates a baseline for subsequent assessment tools. A combination of formal and informal assessments gives a better picture of the young child's skills.
Observations offer an informal assessment method for everyday use. Watching how the child performs various tasks, interacts with peers, speaks and moves provides a glimpse of the child's abilities. For a more structured evaluation, ask each child to perform a particular task as you observe him. For example, ask the child to identify letters written on index cards. Make notes about the child as you observe him. An observation notebook allows you to keep all of your notes in one spot.
Checklists and Rubrics
Checklists and rubrics create a more concrete way to evaluate young children. Create your own checklists and rubrics to focus on the skills you deem a priority. A checklist simply lists the skills that you want the child to perform. Check off each item she is able to do. A rubric uses a scale to show the degree of mastery. Include at least three levels for each task. The lowest level means the child is unable to perform the task. The highest level indicates mastery of the task. The levels in between allow you to indicate the child falls somewhere in between. Perform a checklist or rubric on each child at regular intervals throughout the school year to compare progress.
A portfolio contains concrete examples of the child's skills. Gather examples throughout the year to show how the child's skills change. If possible, ask the child to perform the same task at various times in the year. One example is to ask the child to draw different shapes. At the beginning of the school year, he might not have the ability to draw any of the shapes correctly. By the end of the year, you should see progress toward more recognizable shapes.
Parents provide another point of view in assessing young children. Invite parents into the assessment process for a more comprehensive look at each child's abilities. A conference with the parents gives you a chance to discuss informally the parents' opinions of the child's skill set. A written survey or inventory is another way to give parents a chance to evaluate their children.
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