Annotated Bibliography on Early Childhood Education Assessment

Modified: 8th Feb 2020
Wordcount: 2395 words

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Bagnato, S.J., Goins, D.D., Pretti-Frontczack, K. (2014). Authentic Assessment as “Best Practice” for Early Childhood Intervention: National Consumer Social Validity Research. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 34(2), 116-127. Retrieved from

  • Bagnato, Goins and Pretti-Frontczack present the argument for authentic assessment in Early Childhood Education [ECE] in opposition to large-scale, national or international, conventional testing. Bagnato, Goins and Pretti-Frontczack (2014, p.118) argue assessment criteria aligning with professional and legislative education standards, combined with authentic criteria including goal setting and observation leads to more valid assessment, reflective of a child’s capabilities. (Bagnato et al., 2014, p.125) Bagnato et al. (2014) utilises standards of acceptability, authenticity, collaboration, evidence, multifactors, sensitivity, universality and utility in comparing authentic assessment and conventional testing measures in early childhood settings, to conclude in order to allow children to demonstrate their understandings and knowledge in a range of modes, and highlight their individual strengths and abilities, authentic assessment is more developmentally appropriate than conventional testing. (Bagnato et al., 2014, p.125).

Basford, J., Bath, C. (2013). Playing the assessment game: an English early childhood education perspective. Early Years, 24(2), 119-132. Retrieved from

  • Basford and Bath (2013) draw on legislative documentation and other research to discuss key concerns in ECE. In particular they focus on the ‘purpose’ of assessment in England. Basford and Bath claim one view is “concerned with assessment… against a measureable set of outcomes… to ensure readiness for the next stage of their education” (p.120), “while the opposing view implies it is a collaborative process in which children’s learning and development in documented as an ongoing journey… reflective of culture and practice” (p.120). Supported with research by Papatheodorou (2009), Drummond (2012), Karlsdóttir and Garðarsdóttir (2010), Wood (2007) and Buldu (2010), Basford and Bath (2013, p.121) argue teachers must move away from a pedagogy based on outcomes and profiling, towards one focussed on the child’s thinking and learning processes, however, they must first acquire the knowledge, understanding and skills to develop this pedagogy. The article ‘deconstructs’ ECE policies, suggesting that “practitioners are caught in in playing a game” of assessment and English ECE policies are providing contradictory messages. (Basford & Bath, 2013, p.119) 

Bertram, T., Pascal, C. (2016). Early Childhood Policies and Systems in Eight Countries. Retrieved from

  • Bertram and Pascal’s (2016) study outlines common ECE assessment practices across eight countries. The findings presented suggest many countries focus on “nurturing children’s social and emotional, physical and language development”, however many aim to ensure ‘school readiness’ and value early literacy and numeracy skills over developmental skills. (p.129) Bertram and Pascal (2016) suggest that despite the ECE system having similar demands and challenges, international assessment platforms such as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study [TIMMS] and the Program for International Student Assessment [PISA] give little attention to ECE learning and development outcomes, arguing these international assessment platforms are not well developed for younger children and therefore outcomes are difficult to achieve. (p.131) Supported by OECD (2006), Bertram and Pascal (2016) suggest that as international tests are not appropriate for ECE outcomes, there is “uncertainty in policy making at a national level and a lack of reliable comparative data at an international level.” (p.135)

Cowie, B., Harrison, C., & Willis, C. (2018). Supporting teacher responsiveness in assessment for learning through disciplined noticing. The Curriculum Journal, 1–16. Retrieved from

  • Cowie, Harrison and Willis (2018) discuss the need for teachers to identify the thinking behind student responses in Assessment for Learning [Afl] activities, and their ability to “generate a range of actions to take student learning forward” (p.470) from their current thinking. Cowie et al. (2018) suggests the implication for teachers is in order for students to “preserve their agency and advance their learning” (p.469), teachers must understand how the student is thinking and provide opportunities to demonstrate the extent of their understanding. Cowie et al. (2018) offer three ‘frames’ based on “contemporary sociocultural models for learning and assessment” (p.473) to guide teachers through noticing and responding to student learning to “productively open up opportunities for disciplinary learning through formative actions.” (Cowie et al., 2018) In adopting AfL strategies as a pedagogical approach, teachers are able to “further and explore with students the evidence of their thinking” and are therefore provided a wider range of evidence. (Cowie et al., 2018, p.474)

Dunphy, E. (2010) Assessing early learning through formative assessment: key issues and considerations. Irish Educational Studies, 29(1), 41-56. Retrieved from

  • Dunphy (2010, p.42) promotes “constant interplay between curriculum and assessment in order to ensure the effectiveness of either” in examining key issues and considerations of assessment in ECE. She suggests such consideration “can assist in theorising, stating and shaping… assessment practices.” (Dunphy, 2010, p.42) Dunphy (2010) advocates for authentic assessment, and claims the best way to assess early learning is observation of children as they engage in everyday activities. (p. 43) The article discusses strategies appropriate to authentic assessment in detail, presenting benefits and challenges for each, in addition to the benefits and challenges that arise from authentic assessment practices. Dunphy (2010, p.52) sums up the challenges claiming “educators need… extensive understanding of early learning but equally knowledge of … culturally important areas of learning… and a knowledge of how to make these accessible.”

Goldstein, J., Flake, J. K. (2016). Towards a framework for the validation of early childhood assessment systems. Educational Assessment, Evaluations and Accountability, 20(3), 273-293. Retrieved from

  • Goldstein and Flake (2016) present the argument for validity in ECE assessment. They discuss various national and international assessment programs and suggest “approaches to collecting validity evidence can vary and results can be mixed, making it difficult to… make decisions about what assessments are appropriate for a given purpose.” (p.277) Goldstein and Flake (2016) present challenges associated with ECE assessment, identifying ever-changing standards and curricula, and suggest educators require training and ongoing professional development in assessment practices as implementing national and international assessment can be challenging (p.285- 287)
  • To ensure the suitability of the data and how it is used (Goldstein & Flake, 2016, p.286) the report recommends “large-scale assessments of young children are viewed as a snapshot” rather than a summative measurement of a child’s abilities; and that educators, administrators and stakeholders should be involved in the development of assessment practices and have an in depth understanding of data use. (p.287)

Kilderry, A. (2014) Teachers in early childhood policy. Journal of Education Policy, 29(2), 242-262. Retrieved from

  • Kilderry (2014, p.243) begins claiming early childhood education in Australia reflects similarly on international education contexts where “the effects of the neoliberal discourse on teachers is evident in social practices, particularly where teachers are subject to increasing bureaucratic requirements.” Kilderry (2014) suggests that teachers are required to be accountable for the quality of their own teaching and learning experiences and “ensure that practise meets policy expectations and regulation.” (p.245) Kilderry (2014) provides a somewhat in-depth analysis of policies relevant to ECE in Victoria, the Act; the Regulation; the Preschool Procedures and Funding policy; and the Licensing and Operational Guide, before claiming the term ‘teacher’ appears only once in one of the four documents, despite being key stakeholders. Kilderry (2014) examines educator’s authority and obligation in educational policy and concludes offering “early childhood teachers have shown the ability to move beyond limiting discourses in policy.” (p.260)

Kirkby, J., Keary, A., & Walsh, L. (2018). The impact of Australian policy shifts on early childhood teachers’ understandings of intentional teaching. European Early Childhood Research Journal, 26(5), 674-687. Retrieved from

  • Although focussed on the assessment of oral language skills in ECE settings, Kirkby, Keary and Walsh (2018) promote the idea of ‘intentional teaching’ and ‘assessment for learning’ in accordance with Australian education policy documents such as Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF). Kirkby et al. (2018) note the opinion that these pedagogical approaches may discourage professional judgement or foster a mindset of compliance. (p.674), however, present findings conclusive of the need for educators to further develop their pedagogical content knowledge in order to better embed intentional teaching and assessment for learning practices in a play-based learning philosophy” as endorsed in the ELYF. (Kirkby et al., 2018, p.675) Kirkby et al. (2018) claim the introduction of National Quality Standards and the national teaching standards further “highlight the need to increase the capacity of early childhood teachers to meet expectations” (p.676) and suggest these policies ensure teachers are less focussed on planning teaching and learning experiences, rather “facilitators of children’s ideas.”  (p.676)

Wortham, S. C. (2013). Assessment in Early Childhood Education: Pearson New International Edition. Retrieved from

  • Wortham (2013) identifies ‘accountability’ as the major issue in education. She provides a brief history of ECE policy in the US and describes a shift from policy based on “set standards… assigned responsibilities for meeting the goals and designate rewards and sanctions to achievement levels,” (p.19) towards a more inclusive, ‘multidimensional approach’ termed ‘alternative assessment’ that measures how students apply their knowledge. (p.25) Wortham (2013) questions the validity and reliability of standardised testing with young children, and the purpose and appropriateness of assessment strategies used with “children who are culturally and linguistically diverse.” (p.28) While focussing on ECE in America, Wortham presents a simple, yet encompassing view of the issues surrounding standardised testing in ECE globally.

Wright, R. J. (2009). Multifaceted Assessment for Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from

  • Wright (2009) presents the discussion around ethics of assessment practices in ECE in America. Wright (2009, p.1) supports the idea that assessment should be viewed as a ‘snapshot’ of a child’s understanding, suggesting that they are not indicative of a child’s ability, understanding or knowledge. Wright (2009) draws on The National Association for the Education of Young Children’s [NAEYC] studies and findings to present the opinion that assessment should only take place if it is being used to benefit the child. (p.25) According to NAEYC (2005) such benefits are “to make sound decisions about learning and … instruction; …identify concerns that will need special programs of individual intervention; … provide data to assist the early childhood program to improve its instructional practices.” (Wright, 2009, p.25) In support, Wright (2009, p.29) offers “federal mandates for high- stakes testing have had a far-reaching impact on young children,” also claiming unnecessary testing can create anxiety and fear among all children, especially in early childhood settings. Wright (2009) highlights some of the benefits to the assessment of young children, including the opportunities for intervention, but claims ultimately “evaluation systems… are moving in the direction of preparing children for high-stakes testing.” (p.42) 


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