Observation, Screening, Assessment, and Documentation:

Know Yourself

Breadcrumb trail:

Becoming more self-aware begins with examining yourself.

We each bring our experiences, perspectives, and worldview to our work – the good, the bad, and all of the in-between. These are what make us who we are and influence our practice with children, families, and colleagues. We also hold in our minds a picture of our ideal selves. Knowing more about yourself can pave the way to becoming the person and the early educator that more closely matches your ideal self. This first Key to Reflection and Inquiry can help you become more self-aware and intentional in examining who you are now and who you want to become.

A woman pausing for reflection.

Testing Culture Invades Lives of Young Children

 "…in a widely used vocabulary test, the administrator says a word, shows a child a set of four pictures, and asks the child to point to the one that best represents the word."
"There are many problems with this approach. The first is that young children's development is extremely labile; it is in a constant state of change. Until third grade, children's skills — and their ability to demonstrate those skills — change rapidly. No one-time administration of a standardized test can adequately capture this change and evolution. Second, these tests rarely reflect the lessons and skills children are really learning in preschool and kindergarten. They don't address physical growth and motor skills, social-emotional development, the arts, appreciation for reading, early writing and math skills, and more. They tell us nothing about a child's problem-solving process or preferred method of learning. They ignore vast differences in culture and previous opportunities for learning that shape the context in which the child experiences the test."

— Excerpt from an article by Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D

  • What strategies are you using to make curriculum developmentally sound during this era of accountability and testing in our profession?
  • What keeps you from getting overwhelmed, distracted, and confused with assessment and documentation requirements?
  • What are your biggest challenges with assessment and documentation requirements?

Try This!

Describe your program's assessment and documentation process.

  • What tools and instruments do you use? In your opinion, what are their pros and cons?
  • How do you manage assessment and documentation while working with children?
  • How is this process supported in your program?
  • To whom do you turn for assistance?
  • What systems and strategies have you devised that enable you to observe and document children's interactions and play in your program?
  • How would you coach or mentor another teacher or colleague to help him or her maintain a sense of curiosity and sense of wonder as they observe and authentically assess children?

Use this template to record your observations, thoughts, and feelings.  Download the Template

Deepen Your Understanding

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

Deepen your understanding of the Topic: Assessment instruments and strategies, and the Topic: Modes of documentation in the CA ECE Competencies. Scroll to pages 55 and 56.

Can you find other places in this competency area that address these questions?

Download the California ECE Competencies

California Early Childhood Educator Competencies

Extend Your Learning