'It's much more muddled-up than that' : a study of assessment in an early childhood centre.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This dissertation discusses how a team of teachers understand and practise assessment in the context of an early childhood centre. The early childhood sector has experienced raised expectations in terms of formal assessment in the decades since the education reforms of the late 1980s. These raised expectations have coincided with a shift in thinking about assessment, with the emergence of a new paradigm for assessment, and it is the combination of these that creates a number of tensions for practitioners in the sector. This shift in thinking in the early childhood sector' in this country has been shaped by changes to notions assessment, more universally. Educational assessment has been dominated by the positivist paradigm for over a century, however, as these positivist beliefs are questioned, a new paradigm has emerged for assessment, an interpretivist paradigm. For early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand this interpretivist paradigm sits comfortably with the sociocultural frame of Te Whariki. This dissertation considers the impact of these influences on the teachers of this study as they make meaning of assessment in their context. How the teachers made meaning of assessment \vas found to be influenced by both 'outsider' and 'insider' expectations. Though the teachers accommodated the requirements of assessment defined by 'outsider' expectations, they did so with minimal compromise of their own beliefs and values. In accommodating these requirements the teachers contained the most 'formal' aspects of assessment as they saw it, by limiting the extent to which these 'formal' procedures were followed or impacted on their day-to-day work with children, parents and each other. Instead, the teachers favoured approaches they identified as supporting their goals of building and maintaining strong relationships with children, parents and each other.