What is Assessment?
All assessment in the EYFS falls into two categories, formative and summative.
Formative Assessment: Arguably the most important type of assessment. Often referred to as “Assessment for Learning”. This informs your teaching and enables you to ensure learning progression.
Summative Assessment: An “Assessment of Learning”. This creates data, giving a snapshot measure of progress against set learning goals.
Assessment should be…
- Gathering information to understand learners and their needs
- A snapshot of where children are on their own knowledge and skills continuum
- A way of ensuring our curriculum meets the needs of our current cohort of children
- A way of identifying children in need of extra support
- In the simplest form assessment allows us to measure the impact of curriculum intent and implementation for our learners
Assessment shouldn’t be…
- A simple judgement of children
- Measuring children blindly
The Key Messages linked to EYFS Assessment 2021
- Less evidence gathering to allow for more time for high quality teaching interactions
- Ensuring the move away from “checklist” mentality
- No excessive paperwork
EYFS 2021 Assessment: checking what children have learnt– taken from Development MattersDevelopment Matters: Non-statutory curriculum guidance for the early years foundation stage (Department for Education, July 2021)
• Assessment is about noticing what children can do and what they know. It is not about lots of data and evidence.
• Effective assessment requires practitioners to understand child development. Practitioners also need to be clear about what they want children to know and be able to do.
• Accurate assessment can highlight whether a child has a special educational need and needs extra help.
• Before assessing children, it’s a good idea to think about whether the assessments will be useful.
• Assessment should not take practitioners away from the children for long periods of time.
We must all think about what assessment is useful to ensure that practitioners can talk confidently about about all children. How you choose to record this is up to you because you may not need any records at all to do this. On the other hand, you may want to continually update a tracker, as an aide memoir for discussion at a later date. Alternatively, you may want to reflect and record at set points during children’s learning journey and think about their progress towards the end of year/ stage goals and what this looks like.
How do we carry out Assessment in the EYFS?
The key to formative assessment in the EYFS is observation and interaction because it allows us to develop an understanding of the whole child and ensure that they are moving effectively through out curriculum progress model. Whilst we understand that progress is not linear, carrying out observations enables us to reflect on children’s achievements towards the learning goals. I would also advocate carrying out your own Baseline Assessment, through observation and interaction so that you can identify children’s starting points.
If you want to reflect a little more on your curriculum and progress model then you may find my previous blog on EYFS Curriculum helpful.
I have been asked lots about the removal of tracking individual children. My view is that I am pleased to see the back of trying to pigeonhole children into specific age ranges and looking for achievements based on an age bracket. Instead, the focus is how children are accessing the curriculum and making progress. Because of this, I have opted to create “checkpoint trackers”. This supports a focus on what steps there are in learning to achieve the “big goals” and how this translates in curriculum and environment.
The positives of checkpoint trackers as I see it are:
- They help us to identify the key milestones in our curriculum
- Takes the pressure off memory
- Prevents problems if practitioners leave
- Allows for Early Years Leaders/ SLT to see progression and talk confidently about development
- Gives something tangible to base data on. With % achieving ELG being a measure of the quality of Reception in schools, data is still going to be requested and this allows for a simple calculation of children likely to achieve GLD.
- You can make your checkpoint assessment tracker reflect your curriculum and therefore mould what “on track” looks like.
- It ensures children are moving through the curriculum progress model and accessing learning. Where we see this is not the case, we can intervene and scaffold learning appropriately.
Of course, we need to make EYFS assessment work for us. You need to reflect the needs of your cohort, the demands of your setting and balance your workload to ensure that you are allowing yourself to have a good work: life balance.
Statutory Assessment in the EYFS
Assessment in the EYFS gives 3 set statutory assessment points:
- The Two Year Check
- The Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA)
- The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP)
All these assessments are statutory and assess what children can do at a given time- providing a snapshot of data for comparative purposes.
However, the DfE have been clear, none of these statutory assessment points should generate additional evidence and paperwork. Instead, they should reflect the practitioners knowledge of the child.
What does Ofsted Say about Assessment in the EYFS?
In an interview for Famly (2021), Phil Minns (HMI Special Advisor) and Wendy Ratcliff (HMI Early Years Curriculum Lead) busted some myths linked to Ofsted and the EYFS 2021 and the EIF.
|Want to know what practitioners know about children in terms of their learning and development
|Ask to see tick lists linked to learning or the educational programmes
|Want to know what the learning and development goals are. What do you expect children to know, learn and develop in the learning experiences you provide?
|Expect to see additional tracking and data
|Want to see that the curriculum you provide sets high expectations which is fed into by assessment for learning
It is also important to note that Phil Minns (HMI, 2021) talked about the need for some settings to put in place “systems to handle data”. I think this means ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’. Therefore if things are working- keep them! If you need data tracking to stay on top of your cohort, then use it, safe in the knowledge that Ofsted are not looking for a particular format or style.
I honestly struggled to write this blog post! It felt like there was so much to cover, but it was all so intertwined with aspects such as progression models, curriculum development and learning goals. Assessment underpins all that we do! We use it to ensure that our children are making progress towards our curriculum goals and then to adjust our learning experiences and environment as appropriate.
I hope you have found it helpful. As always, pop me a message on social media or via the website with any questions or queries and I’ll do my best to help!