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  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: August 2019

Chapter 12 - Language and literacy assessment in early childhood contexts and classrooms


Assessment strategies need to be authentic (Newmann & Archbald, 1992) or educative (Groundwater-Smith, Ewing & Le Cornu, 2014). In a context where the concept of literacy is being narrowed and where achievement is increasingly measured by testing, this chapter focuses on the central role that formative assessment should play in early childhood contexts and classrooms. It draws on the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF, 2009) to show how observing what a child already knows and understands will help plan for future learning in early childhood contexts and classrooms.

Anticipated outcomes for the chapter

After working through this chapter, you should be able to:

  • • define what is meant by authentic and educative literacy assessment, assessing for learning and assessment of learning in early childhood settings

  • • reflect on what it means to use inclusive and educative literacy assessment strategies and principles in your early childhood context/classroom

  • • acknowledge that no judgement that we make can be value-free or ‘objective’

  • • understand how the Early Years Learning Framework outcomes can help us focus on appropriate assessment strategies for early childhood contexts

  • • Develop a portfolio which authentically records a child's literacy progress.


    I don't know what to do. I have a great relationship with my five year old EXCEPT when I ask him to read to me. We used to have so much fun together sharing books but since he's been at school, it's all changed. When I remind him about his reading homework we can get quite heated with each other. He's supposed to read for 15 minutes every night but he finds all kinds of excuses to procrastinate. I'm worried because reading is just so important and I don't want him to fall behind his classmates. He's not at the same level as his best friend. And he refuses to spend time with me at home learning his sight words. I just don't understand why he is behaving like this.

    (Eleni, mother of Mohammed)

    Like many parents, Eleni is keen for her son to learn to read as quickly and effortlessly as possible. It is not unusual for parents like Eleni to conflate learning to read with doing well at school. Her own anxiety about Mohammed learning to read may be inadvertently contributing to her son's attitude to reading.

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