In his discussion of Learning Stories and (the alternative assessment tool) Learning Notes, Ken Blaiklock insists that assessment must have a purpose. “Assessment,” he writes, “is most commonly used for two purposes, formative and summative. Formative assessment is an ongoing process and is sometimes referred to as ‘assessment for learning’ (Absolum, 2006). It is what occurs everyday as teachers work with children and observe their strengths, interests, and needs. Most of this occurs in an informal way and is not documented but teachers may choose to record information they gather through formative assessment. Documented observations can be useful for building up information about a particular child and can inform planning for future learning experiences.
Summative assessment is used to ‘sum up’ a child’s performance in a particular area of learning and development at a particular time. Reporting against National Standards is an example of summative assessment at the primary school level. At the early childhood level there are no requirements for New Zealand teachers to conduct summative assessments. Such assessments may occur, however, when teachers wish to describe a child’s performance in order to seek additional educational assistance (e.g., for a child who has special learning needs).” (p.7)
Ken Blaiklock (2010) Assessment in New Zealand early childhood settings: A proposal to change from Learning Stories to Learning Notes. Early Education, 48(2), 5-10