Summative Assessment in Childcare

Assessment of a child’s progress in childcare takes many forms including running records, learning journals and photo journals. As detailed as these learning journals may be it will not present the clearest picture of the child’s journey and progress – that’s where the summative assessment comes into play.

What is Summative Assessment in Childcare?

an asian woman assesses a child being taught by an educator

The word assessment in childcare causes some confusion. Early childhood educators aren’t assessing children against defined measures but are rather plotting and mapping the child’s developmental progress over the course of a period of time. Over the span of the year they will use a variety of assessment tools to record the child’s progress. To bring all of the evidence together the educator uses a summative assessment to provide an overview of the child’s progress.

Ultimately the summative assessment should:

  • Highlight the strengths, learning development and interests of the child while acknowledging the child’s cultural background
    ● Identify any gaps in knowledge about the child
    ● Identify any potential learning difficulties
    ● Assist in planning for further support of the child’s development
    ● Promote and facilitate discussion with the child’s parents
    ● Assist in helping the childcare centre to meet all the requirements of national regulation and the national quality standard.

The key element to remember is that summative assessment childcare does not need to be a huge task if you are well organised and have been recording assessments throughout the assessment period.

How you Implement Summative Assessments

When considering how to write summative assessments in childcare it is important to remember that the process involves analysing a collection of records concerning the child’s progress and turning that information into a summary.

With this in mind implementing summative assessments is a relatively straight forward process where you:

  • Have a thorough understanding of the assessment process and why you need to do a summative assessment
    ● You have an organised system of information storage and filing that you can assess easily. It is a good idea to keep some sort of master organisation form so that you know where everything is filed.
    ● Commit to a time frame to complete assessments and work consistently towards achieving that goal by keeping accurate records of each child’s progress
    ● There is no set format for summative assessments and it is worth experimenting with different styles until you find one that best suits the way you work
    ● After completing the summative process undertake some reflective practice to identify how the child’s future development can be supported and write down clear learning goals for the coming period.
    ● Use what you already know – there’s no need to over complicate the process. You’ve been documenting the child’s progress consistently -so this is simply what it says it is an overall summary of the child’s progress.

What Should they look like?

While the National Quality Standard does not specify a set format there are some areas that the summative assessment should cover. These areas include:

● An emphasis of children’s strengths and a visible demonstration of the child’s strengths
● Include a recognition of the family’s knowledge of the child so that the assessment can take account of the child’s home and centre life
● Not contain any bias
● Clear concise language that is easy for families to understand
● Acknowledge the child’s social and cultural background
● Be regular and systematic so that a complete picture of the child’s progress emerges

Summative Assessment Childcare Examples

a teacher assessing children in a group setting

There are a number of ways that the summative assessment can be presented in a number of formats including:

● Pictorially using photographs to demonstrate progress with links to specific learning outcomes
● Flow charts identifying learning outcomes and plotting progress
● In table format
● Or in letter form

Regardless of which style you choose to use, you will need to provide summative assessments for the key learning outcomes. These are

● Children have a strong sense of identity
● Children are connected with and contribute to the world
● Children have a strong sense of well being
● Children are confident learners
● Children are effective communicators

Summative assessment childcare example templates on each key learning outcome follow..

Children have a strong sense of identity

Amanda works collaboratively and cooperates with others. She is equally at home in small and large group and game situations. In these situations she demonstrates respect for the feelings and rights of others. This is particularly evident during play where she works to resolve squabbles by listening to both sides of the story, asking relevant questions such as “why did you say that?” and working towards a solution that everyone will be happy with. Amanda also enjoys participating in dramatic play situations and takes a leading role by providing ideas and introducing characters.

Children are connected with and contribute to the world

Amanda actively seeks the involvement of other children and is always looking to bring others into her play. If she notices a child who appears to be alone, she will invite them to be involved with her play. She confidently expresses her opinion and this is particularly evident in group discussion. She understands that there are different ways of contributing to play or projects. She will ask educators if they need more materials to complete the project. If need be, she will look for other items to play with. Additionally, Amanda enjoys learning about other cultures.

Children have a strong sense of well being

Amanda happily connects with friends in a positive way. She has a wonderful sense of humour and enjoys making others laugh. Amanda actively participates in many physical activities such as dance in particular. She uses her senses to explore and respond to her surroundings. When using play equipment, Amanda shows respect for the safety of others and herself when using equipment. She also displays an understanding of looking after her health and always brings a healthy lunch.

Children are confident and involved learners

Amanda enjoys learning. She always is one of the first children to try something new and is an early and eager participant in new projects. She uses her imagination positively to express her creativity. When we introduced our under the sea theme, Amanda was excited and wanted to be a mermaid. She created a tail using cardboard, newspaper, glitter and paint. After she had created her own tail, she helped others to create mermaid tails as well.

Children are effective communicators

Amanda is a confident communicator. Her speech is clear and easy to understand. She is a confident communicator in both small and large groups and displays active listening skills in both scenarios. Her understanding is evident by the questions she asks and the answers she gives. Amanda’s enjoyment of group time is evident from her participation and communication at these times. She enjoys story and enjoys using creative arts like drawing and painting to convey her ideas.

The summative assessment should simply summarise the observations that you have previously observed and recorded.