Many educators record assessments of children’s learning using the headings Identity, Contribution and connection, Wellbeing, Communication and Confidence as a learner. While it definitely makes sense to use the Early Years Learning Framework and Frameworks for School Aged Care Learning Outcomes as a focus, I’m not convinced that simply repeating what’s in the Frameworks is very useful in 2015.
By now surely all educators have at least a general idea of the meaning of the Learning Outcomes. Most will have moved on to explore the nuances and detail in particular Outcomes, helped by using the many resources available.
If I were an Authorised Officer, I would want to see and hear evidence that educators’ understanding extends beyond the headings. There is limited value in simply matching words and phrases in the Frameworks and observations of children’s behaviour.
I would also look for evidence of thoughtful analysis and interpretation of observations, analysis that borrows from details in the Learning Outcomes and other parts of the Frameworks. In other words, I’d want evidence that educators understand the content, not just that they had memorised the headings.
An example: A toddler takes the hand of a one year old as she arrives, walks her over to the basket that has her photo and name on it, removes her hat, puts it in the basket, and says ‘Hat off inside’.
It’s not very helpful to write down the words identity, contribution to the world (or Learning Outcomes 1 and 2), literacy, agency or belonging, or to copy all the relevant text from the Frameworks in relation to this event. It isn’t true that the more you write the better. Quality, not quantity, matters. One good insight is probably much more valuable than repeating what’s in the Frameworks or collecting lots of photographs.
The quality of assessments lies largely in the analysis or interpretations arising from educators’ critical reflection about what they see and hear.
The point is to write down what’s important, what you really see and hear, and why it’s worth recording.
In addition, if I were an Authorised Officer I’d also want evidence that assessments of children’s learning inform program planning directly – inform the child’s whole experience, including their interactions and conversations with educators and daily routines. Planning for the child’s whole experience, not just particular activities or times of the day needs to be based on deep understanding of the child. That’s the reasons for assessments.
Do you think that by now educators are familiar with the broad intent of the Learning Outcomes? What’s the evidence for your answer?
What benefits and risks arise from encouraging educators to avoid simply repeating what’s in the Frameworks in their documentation?
Might focusing on recording thoughtful insights and analyses of what you think children are learning both improve the quality and reduce the amount of documenting you do?
How can educators be encouraged to move to deeper analysis of children’s learning and more insightful and helpful records to support planning?