Ongoing assessments for learning are a needed complement to standardized testing in early childhood classrooms.
In a Head Start classroom in Chicago, a group of children busy themselves in an assortment of learning centers. Mrs. McDonald, the head teacher, invites 4-year-old Hassen to sit next to her at a table, where she has placed a test booklet for the National Reporting System, a high-stakes achievement test being administered across the United States to all 4- and 5-year-olds in Head Start.
“Point to elbow,” Mrs. McDonald instructs Hassen, and he does so correctly. “Point to rewarding,” she continues. Hassen looks at the four pictures on the page of the test booklet and points to one—an incorrect answer according to the answer sheet. Mrs. McDonald marks a zero on the score sheet. The test takes about 15 minutes, and Hassen identifies the correct response 67 percent of the time.