Adequate assessment of children's achievements requires collection and analysis of both their spontaneous work and what they produce in response to teacher requests.
Collecting the Children's Work Samples:
Teachers should collect samples of children's spontaneous performance in the range of curricular objectives:
The teacher also should plan systematically for structured work samples. These are tasks that a teacher determines and specifically requests a child to do at a certain time and place, while recording the child's responses.
"Used appropriately, these more formal, test-like assessments meet standards of validity and reliability because they involve learning tasks and situations that are consistent with goals and objectives for children and are like typical classroom activities." (Hills, 1992, pp. 55, 57)
Examples of structured performances are:
Analyzing the Children's Work Samples
After the information is collected, teachers must analyze it and reflect upon its significance. Checklists of desirable skills and concepts and lists of realistic expectations in developmental domains and content areas can help teachers to collect the range of documentation needed and interpret it in light of goals and objectives. The teacher will then be in a position to summarize the assessment findings.
The Primary Program: Growing and Learning in the Heartland (Nebraska Department of Education & Iowa Department of Education, 1993) provides numerous suggestions for organizing and analyzing assessment information, including sample forms for summarizing data.
Engel (1990) advises teachers to review the assessment information periodically, adding interpretive notes about children's interests, progress, and breakthroughs in learning. Those summary descriptive notes are useful for the teacher's instructional planning, for anecdotal reports to parents at the end of the year, and for preparing for conferences with parents.
Engel (1990, pp. 128-129) also endorses the use of descriptive inventories, which summarize learning in a particular curriculum area. She describes these inventories as a way to keep track of what is happening with a child, rather than prescribing what should happen. Her example of a descriptive literacy inventory is made up of items that, taken together, form an overall view of a child's literacy attainments.