It is important for early childhood educators to assess preschooler’s developmental progress over time. It allows the teacher to have a clear picture of where the child is developmentally and what goals they should be working towards. This helps inform the teacher’s planning and can bring any delays to their attention. There are several ways to do this though. The use of report cards in assessing children is fairly new in the preschool setting. If you do choose to use report cards, here are some suggestions.
1. USE ALONGSIDE AUTHENTIC ASSESSMENTS
Typically, in preschool, teachers use authentic forms of assessment. Authentic assessments are the developmentally appropriate way to track a child’s progress across each developmental domain. It uses clear evidence in the child’s work and through observations to show a child’s progress. When report cards are used, they tend to have more of a checklist format. These report cards often have no room for teacher comments either.
Checklists are great for assessing specific skills like the ability to count to ten or the child’s ability to identify letters, but do not look at the whole child. Use the report card alongside a form of authentic assessment, such as a portfolio, to ensure that the development of the whole child is the focus and the report card reflects the findings of that assessment.
2. ALLOW FOR TEACHER COMMENTS
Report cards are basically a list of expectations. Young children do not all develop at the same rate though. They learn through play and develop at their own pace. It is hard to show their development with a mere check mark in a box that says that they either meet or exceed the expectation, or are still working towards it. This method does not show the type of progress over time that an authentic assessment can show. This is why it is so important for report cards to leave space for teacher comments and explanations. Comments can help clarify just where the child is at in working towards meeting an expectation.
Also, as hard as it may be, it is important to document and communicate any developmental or behavioral concerns on the report card. Most of the teacher comments should be positive, but that doesn’t mean you should leave out the hard stuff. Keep these comments brief and concise. It is always a good idea to include examples when talking about behavioral issues, too.
3. COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS
When giving your preschoolers’ parents their report cards, it is best to have a sit down conference with them to go over it. This way, you have a chance to have an open conversation about how the child is progressing overall. Collaborate with the child’s parents on what the child will be working towards for goals now and give them ideas on how to support their child’s progress at home.
4. KEEP IT SHORT
If a parent receives a preschool report card that is several pages long, chances are that they wont even read through it. Besides, there is no need to detail each and every aspect of development if you are also using a form of authentic assessment. Reserve the report card for specific concrete standards based skills, particularly ones that your preschool parents ask about frequently. Use your state’s early learning standards to guide the development of any report cards that you will use.
Assessing preschool children’s development over time is one of the most important roles as a preschool teacher. Although authentic assessments are the most developmentally appropriate methods of assessing young children, that does not mean you cannot use other methods such as report cards alongside them. Using report cards in preschool assessment can give parents a clear and quick look at how their child is doing with specific skills.