Chapter 4

What role does
assessment play in
curriculum planning?
© McLachlan, Edwards, Margrain & McLean 2013
Assessment and curriculum planning
• Teachers can and should draw on a range of assessment
practices to inform curriculum planning
• There are a range of factors that influence the way
teachers think about curriculum
the enacted curriculum, or, what teachers do and their classroom is, varies
considerably due to the way these factors come together for each individual
teacher (Blaise and Nuttall 2011).
The influence of policy on
• Whilst curriculum is commonly referred to as “the
content of teaching” (Bowman, Donovan & Burns 2001,
p. 182) pedagogy is described as the how and what of
teaching, or, “knowledge about how to teach so that
children will learn” (Comber & Reid 2007 p. 45)
• Policy is embedded within curriculum frameworks
Example of curriculum descriptions
and definitions in two curriculum
Australian Early Years Learning
Te Whāriki - The New Zealand
In the early childhood setting curriculum means
‘all the interactions, experiences, activities,
routines and events, planned and unplanned, that
occur in an environment designed to foster
children’s learning and developments’ (adapted
from Te Whāriki ).
(Department of Education, Employment and
Workforce Relations 2009, p. 9)
The term ‘curriculum’ is used in this document to
describe the sum total of the experiences,
activities, and events, whether direct or indirect,
which occur within an environment designed to
foster children’s learning and development.
(Ministry of Education 1996, p. 10)
The relationship between the
assessment and curriculum planning
• A key purpose for assessment is to support children’s
learning and development
• Ongoing assessment processes should provide
validation of the different pathways that children take to
reach learning outcomes
Assessment and curriculum planning
• Culturally and linguistically supportive assessment
practices should be implemented.
• These include:
• identifying what each child brings to the learning context and
ensuring curriculum and pedagogical decisions are aimed at
fostering further learning and development
• incorporating a variety of assessment practices
• identifying and using children’s prior knowledge to plan an
appropriate curriculum
• engaging in an ongoing cycle aimed at gathering, analysing and
using information to support children’s learning and development,
and strengthen curriculum.
Assessment for learning
• The process of documenting learning and development is
closely linked to contemporary views of assessment for
Assessment for learning processes are aimed at providing
information for teachers to plan for children’s learning
In curriculum documentation there is a further emphasis on
determining individual progress towards learning outcomes,
essential skills or standards
Assessment contributes to what children can learn and do, and
to pedagogy
Learning occurs when a synergy between assessment,
curriculum and pedagogy is realised
Assessment for learning
• Variation occurs in the interpretation and application of
policies to early childhood settings
• The EYLF identifies three levels for planning,
facilitating and monitoring learning
• Overarching outcomes of being, belonging and becoming
• Five learning outcomes and 19 sub elements
• Points of evidence
• All three levels of outcomes should be used to plan
Guidance on assessment to support
curriculum documents
A range of weblinks are provided to support teachers to implement
assessment. These include:
• Ministry of Education Early Childhood Education New Zealand
• Outlines assessment for learning
• Narrative assessment exemplars
• Small case studies
• National standards
• Topics to contribute to learning outcomes
• Ministry of Education research documents
Guidance on assessment to support
curriculum documents
• Ministry of Education Inclusive Education
• Narrative assessment
• Exemplars
• Case studies
• Department of Education and Workplace Relations
• Childcare
• Pre-School
Guidance on assessment to support
curriculum documents
• Early Childhood Australia
• National Quality Standards
• Publications and research
• Newsletter
• Position statement
• Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA)
• Victorian Early Years Learning Exchange
• Publications, Research and Presentations
• Activities for good practice
• Victorian Early Years Learning and Development
Framework(VEYLDF), Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF),
Victorian Essential Learning Standards (VELS) and Assessment
Holistic assessment practices
Te Whāriki and EYLF
• socio-cultural perspectives deeply embedded
• intentional teaching
Holistic approaches to assessment recognise that all learners learn different things at
different times and in different ways (Carr & Lee 2012; ERO 2008; Ministry of
Education 2009)
Take into consideration child’s learning within and across a range of domains:
• physical
• spiritual
• wellbeing
• emotional
• personal
• cognitive
• social
Teachers being attentive to children’s learning and development through observing,
actively listening, documenting and discussing children’s learning
Assessment practices should
• Challenge early years teachers to improve teaching and
• Support and build upon existing strengths
• Credit based or strength based models of assessment are
holistic and highlight connections between child,
activity and community (Carr 2001)
Assessment for learning
• Assessment for learning in Australian and New Zealand
curriculum documents is part of a wider
international interest in early childhood education
• Ongoing process for improving quality of teaching
and learning in early childhood
Key terms
Te Whāriki – the New Zealand bicultural early childhood curriculum (Ministry of
Education, New Zealand 1996). The name means ‘woven mat’ and represents the
weaving of the principles, stands and goals of the curriculum to plan for children’s
learning and development.
Whānau – the Māori term for extended family. The term in increasingly used in official
publications in New Zealand to refer to diverse family groupings.
Reggio Emilia – city in northern Italy that has a world-recognised approach to early
childhood education.
Multiple assessment strategies – strategies for assessment that incorporate more than
one form of assessment.
Early childhood pedagogy – the art or science of early childhood teaching.
Formative assessment – includes formal and informal assessment aimed at improving
Assessment for learning – ongoing assessment process aimed at informing and
improving teaching and learning.

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