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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Integrating different perspectives – Te whakauru tirohanga rerekē

Members of the learning community of a child with early intervention support may bring different and sometimes conflicting viewpoints about appropriate objectives and goals for the child and about ways to help the child achieve them. They may also bring different views about disability and inclusion (Purdue et al., 2001; Ballard, 1993). Broadly, early intervention specialists use diagnostic and norm- and criterion-referenced assessment tools that work towards supporting the child in developing new skills. Teachers, education support workers, and whānau often bring learning stories to IP meetings, introducing both more information and a different perspective on goals and learning pathways for the child (Carr, 2001). This perspective reflects the belief, fundamental to Te Whāriki, that all children are active learners who construct their own learning pathways through their relationships with the people, places, and things in their environment.

In considering such varied perspectives, it is not a matter of “either/or”: skills or dispositions; deficit or credit approaches; medical diagnostic tools, criterion-referenced measures, or narrative assessments. Rather it is a matter of communication, integration, and accommodation, allowing all participants’ voices to be heard. Inclusion and belonging require that children are not excluded from the curriculum of their peers. A truly inclusive curriculum incorporates inclusive formative assessment.

Book 4 explores ways in which children can contribute to assessment. Children with special learning needs have the same right to contribute their own voices and to participate in developing their own learning pathways. This principle is exemplified in this book, for example, when Elaine’s teacher allows her to lead the way in establishing communication (page 8) and when John’s teachers observe and support his developing interest in connecting things together (pages 12–14).