Chapter 6: Understanding Emergent Literacy Assessment Practices

“Early childhood assessment should guide teachers to provide the best educational opportunities for children and, ultimately, benefit the child.”

Piker & Jewkes, 2013

Opening Vignette: Mr. Costello’s Reflection

Mr. Costello’s most recent set of observational notes were collected after reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin & Archambault, 1989). A checklist Mr. Costello completed during a brief four-minute observational moment shows Isabella identified 10 lower case letters while playing with a friend at the water table. On this particular day, the water table materials encouraged children to float foam letters from the “shore” to “coconut island” for a letter parade. Mr. Costello smiles as he rereads the mini-note he attached to the checklist capturing how Isabella played with the lower case /b/ flipping it around and saying, “Look, I’m a B… Look, I’m a P…Look, I’m a B…” in a sing-songy voice as she danced the letter across the water. He knows this playful moment demonstrates a great deal about Isabella’s alphabetic knowledge and shows a strength in her abilities to manipulate and recognize letters.

Educators use a variety of assessment tools and practices, like the observational assessment Mr. Costello reviews in the opening vignette, to gain insight into children’s emergent literacy knowledge. Mr. Costello will keep his observational note, along with the other pieces of assessment data he gathers over time, to develop a holistic picture of Isabella’s emerging literacy skills. He knows when a single data point is combined with additional pieces of assessment information a more complete understanding of a child’s literacy knowledge begins to emerge. Children’s work samples, data from standardized assessments, and documentation from other observational assessments collectively inform his understanding of Isabella’s literacy enactments. By strategically combining formal and informal assessment sources to demonstrate what young children know, Mr. Costello embraces a strengths-based assessment approach and intentionally positions children like Isabella as active literacy agents ready to communicate, learn, and engage as readers and writers in the world.

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The Early Literacy Journey: Supporting and Celebrating Young Learners Copyright © 2024 by Sandra Carrie Garvey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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