Do you do assessments in your center?

Recently, while doing sales calling, I was told by a young woman answering the phone at a licensed childcare center, “Oh, we don’t do assessments here.” What she probably meant was that in their childcare center, like most others, there will be no formal grades, nor will there be diagnoses. However, it is not yet time to simply dismiss the consideration of “asssessments” because there ARE assessments — I hope. Therefore we ought to consider how well we are doing them. No wonder it is a popular seminar topic. It should be!
Most centers report on milestones that the children are achieving. Many of the better centers observe where the child is during the early part of the school year and report on it in the Spring. In this way the parents can see the progress the child is making and how the center experience is contributing to that. However, it is also useful for the director to notice how well her staff is doing. She might notice that in one class many of the children are behind or ahead in an area. This suggests that the teaching strategy was the cause. There might be an effort to share the wisdom.
All experienced teachers also can not help but notice when child is not within normal limits. Regularized assessment, whether a milestone, a criteria based, or a norm based assessment, is often a good step to better understanding what is happening. Regularized observations and reports to parents are not only professional but also reduce anxiety everyone feels, if communications have been regular and good all along.
In some cases a referral to a health or wellness professional is called for. Other disciplines have more extensive kinds of norm based assessments. If the results are understood by the parents and educators, they may serve as guides for improved educational services.
And of course, there are regular performance reviews. These are assessments. And there may even be exit surveys so the center can find out what parents are un/happy about. This is an assessment. Indeed, checking the playground daily before the children arrive and noticing if the floor were vacuumed — all these are assessments.
We do have assessments. The important thing is to pick the right kind and do them in the right way. And do them and use them as a team, serving the child.
Sometimes this happens better than other times. We want to be on the better side, don’t we? Recently a Mensa member wrote in about her favorite teacher. Her second grade teacher was the first to realize that she was not mentally challenged, but really deaf. It was not until that teacher took a little extra time with this girl did she get a hearing aid. Today that little girl is in a club for geniuses. She might, however, have stayed in a class for mentally challenged children, deprived of the life she could have had, simply because no one had taken the time to realize that what she needed was a hearing aid.
So, yes, you have assessments in your center. They can not be dismissed. What we need to do is to be sure we are using them in an accurate and helpful way: not as death knells, but as direction to the team.
What kind do you use in your center?

Teacher of Teachers. Professional, Master Level Trainer for ECD in Texas. College instructor, Trainer, Constultant


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