This article caught my eye because it describes a piece of research challenging a similar set of problems to what we are facing in New Zealand…
“The purpose of the study reported here was to utilize innovative collaborative research approaches to create a school readiness assessment instrument grounded in values and perspectives shared among early childhood stakeholders in Wyoming. Understanding the power and impact of assessments on children, families, schools, and communities, Wyoming teachers resisted the adoption of a published checklist or standardized readiness assessment. In response to national trends to collect child performance data, policy makers at the Wyoming Department of Education chose to be proactive in developing an observation tool as a measure of children’s foundations for success in kindergarten for use in publicly funded preschool programs for 4- to 5-year-old children and kindergartners in their first year of public education.” (np)
“This article describes the collaborative process of developing the “Instructional Foundations for Kindergarten” (IFK) observation tool. The IFK is not a high-stakes test to determine whether children are ready for school or not; rather, it is a tool for understanding how to prepare young children for school, determining appropriate preschool and kindergarten curriculum, and identifying professional development needs of teachers.”
The issue of readiness
“The National Education Goals Panel proclaimed in 1991, “…all children in America will start school ready to learn” (p. vi). Kagan (1999) reports that this goal has shifted focus from children being ready to learn to their readiness for school. Consequently, current trends reflect the educationalization and systematization of early childhood rooted in an accountability perspective (Kagan & Kauerz, 2007). This approach attempts to define quality of educational programs and measure child outcomes through the establishment of predetermined learning standards and isolated skills intended to demonstrate that children are “ready for school.” As a result, traditional holistic early childhood assessment that reflects all domains of development is being replaced by assessment of academic learning, with a narrow focus on literacy and math skills (Snow, 2007).” (np)
Reading the article, I felt there was a lot worth discussing in terms of pedagogical approaches (the article on Foucault in ECE came to mind, for example), but the situation is an interesting one!
Tricia Giovacco Johnson & Michelle Buchanan University of Wyoming () ‘Constructing and Resisting the Development of a School Readiness Survey: The Power of Participatory Research’ ECRP (Early Childhood Research and Practice) 13(1) online journal (free access)
“Abstract This article describes the process of engaging preschool and kindergarten teachers in the research and development of a school readiness survey. The current trend toward high-stakes assessment of school readiness pressures communities to collect child performance data in a manner that departs from informal observation typical of early childhood assessments. Based on the knowledge that assessment should be age appropriate, reflect a range of developmental domains, incorporate authentic methods, and be inclusive of diverse learners, preschool and kindergarten teachers in Wyoming resisted the use of formal assessments of school readiness. Wyoming chose to be proactive in developing “Instructional Foundations for Kindergarten,” an observation tool grounded in values and perspectives shared by preschool and kindergarten teachers. This process utilized a collaborative research approach through focus group and small group interviews that engaged preschool and kindergarten teachers in dialogue regarding children, classrooms, and their efforts to support the transition from preschool to kindergarten settings. Findings indicate that teachers involved in the creation of an assessment value the opportunity to share their different perspectives, engage in meaningful dialogue regarding the relevance of survey content and items, and promote the use of assessments that are inclusive of all children. This research begins a conversation among early childhood teachers in Wyoming regarding readiness—a first step in the development of a readiness system that reflects the shared values of stakeholders.”