Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

A Queensland Perspective on Assessment in the Early Years: Teacher Perceptions and Use of the Reading Developmental Continuum

Academic journal article Australian Journal of Language and Literacy

A Queensland Perspective on Assessment in the Early Years: Teacher Perceptions and Use of the Reading Developmental Continuum

Article excerpt

The Queensland context

In 1993, the Queensland Government commissioned a review of the Queensland school curriculum. The resulting Report of the Review of the Queensland School Curriculum: Shaping the Future (Wiltshire et al. 1994) identified a number of recommendations related to curriculum reform, including recommendation 7.1 which stated: `That early-age prevention, identification and intervention relating to students experiencing difficulties with literacy and numeracy be given priority by teacher education programs, system- or sector-level structures, schools and teachers' (p. xiii).

In response to the recommendations of the curriculum review, the Queensland Government introduced `a process of monitoring and reporting on early literacy ... to complement teachers' comprehensive assessment of learning and development during the early years of schooling' (Department of Education 1995c, p. 1). This involved teachers developing individual student profiles and using developmental continua. The continua were based on the Education Department of Western Australia's First Steps Developmental Continua (1994b,d) and implemented in Queensland as frameworks for mapping students' progress in reading and writing. In conjunction with this mapping process, a Year 2 Diagnostic Net was developed collaboratively across education systems `to support children's literacy and numeracy development during the early years of schooling in Queensland' (Department of Education 1995d, p. 1). The Year 2 Diagnostic Net was designed to validate teacher judgements about students' performance using guidelines provided most recently by the Queensland School Curriculum Council (Queensland School Curriculum Council 1997a,b). Thus, the Year 2 Diagnostic Net confirmed or negated teacher judgements and identified Year 2 students who required additional learning support.

In Queensland, three sets of documents inform assessment practices in the early years of school, English in Years 1 to 10 Queensland Syllabus (1994b), Education Department of Western Australia First Steps: Reading Developmental Continuum (1994b), First Steps: Writing Developmental Continuum (1994d) and materials published by Department of Education Queensland (1995c) and Queensland School Curriculum Council (1997a,b) to support the implementation of the Year 2 Diagnostic Net. The syllabus materials describe a range of techniques and instruments to gather and record assessment information. Assessment techniques included in the syllabus are observation, consultation, focused analysis and students' self and peer assessment. The First Steps Reading and Writing Developmental Continua (1994b,d) provide a framework, published in Phases A-F, for mapping children's literacy, and the Queensland School Curriculum Council materials provide guidelines for teachers to implement the Year 2 Diagnostic Net. The Year 2 Diagnostic Net consists of a four-step process in which teachers will:

* observe and map children's progress using developmental continua for literacy and numeracy

* validate observations with specifically designed assessment tasks for all children likely to be identified as requiring intervention

* provide support to those children requiring additional assistance report to parents.

(Department of Education 1995c, p. 1)

Teacher judgements are validated in relation to the way they have mapped the reading progress of individual children onto the Reading Developmental Continuum. Not all children participate in the validation process, only those operating in Phase B of the Reading Developmental Continuum. Students previously mapped by their teachers as operating in Phase A on the continuum qualify immediately for reading intervention and those from Phase B who display difficulty with the validation task also become eligible for additional learning assistance.

The validation procedure begins with a teacher implementing a unit of work that develops contextual understanding of a text to be used in the validation process. …

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