Kei Tua o te Pae

Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best-practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.

The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.

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Book 6: Assessment and learning: Competence – He aromatawai me te ako: Kaiaka

Introduction - He kupu whakataki

"Exemplars are examples of assessments that make visible learning that is valued so that the learning community (children, families, whānau, teachers, and beyond) can foster ongoing and diverse learning pathways."

Early Childhood Learning and Assessment Exemplar Project Advisory
Committee and Co-ordinators, 2002 (Emphasis added)

This is the second of three books of exemplars that ask the question “What difference does assessment make to children’s learning?” Assessments can make learning visible and foster learning that is valued. The learning is described as competence in line with the aspiration for children “to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators” in Te Whāriki (1996, page 9). It is also consistent with the statement that educators should implement curriculum and assessment practices that “enhance their [the children’s] sense of themselves as capable people and competent learners” (Te Whāriki, 1996, page 30).

Book 1 in this series defines assessment for learning as “noticing, recognising, and responding”. The commentaries in documented assessments can make visible the identity of the child as a competent, confident learner. Children, families, whānau, and teachers can revisit the assessments to discuss the learning that they value, what they regard as “competence”, and how competence is enhanced.

One of the parents at an early childhood centre, interviewed by the teacher about her experience of writing learning stories for her son Tom’s folder, said:

"Cause you just get on with ordinary everyday life, and you start taking things for granted about them, whereas this sort of thing [being invited to contribute to the assessment folder] makes you stop and really look, and think about, “oh ... yes that’s really interesting”. Or that’s quite a big learning step for them, by doing what they did, or what they said."

Radford, 2001, page 24

One of the stories she wrote was about Tom’s perseverance as he made a card for his nan in which he wanted to draw a “gust of wind”. As such stories are read back to Tom, he is likely to develop a sense of himself as a capable person and a competent learner. This awareness will impact on his learning.

Te Whāriki upholds the right for Māori to have a voice and be visible in early childhood education. At the 2001 Hui Taumata Mātauranga, Mason Durie introduced a framework for Māori educational achievement. He explained that:

"In order to reach the three goals: to live as Māori, to participate as citizens of the world, and to enjoy good health and a high standard of living, education must be guided by sound principles. Some principles go almost without saying – treating students with respect, establishing good relationships between school and home, acknowledging the dignity and uniqueness of all learners."

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