Swimming Upstream in a Torrent of Assessment

Growing attention to preK mathematics and increased focus on standards in the US may be leading policy makers, administrators, and practitioners down the wrong path when it comes to assessing young children. The temptation to rely on standardised assessment practices may result in misguided understandings about what children actually know about mathematics. As part of a larger study of professional development with teachers focused on culturally and developmentally responsive practices in preK mathematics, we have found that our understanding of children’s mathematical knowledge varies greatly depending on the form (what), context (where), assessor (who), and purpose (why) of assessment. Drawing on findings from three cases, we suggest that in the transition to school, shifting to more a formalised ‘school-type’ assessment is fraught with obstacles that vary greatly by child.

Wager, A. A., Graue, M. E., & Harrigan, K. (2015). Swimming upstream in a torrent of assessment. In R. Perry, A. Gervasoni, & A. MacDonald (Eds.), Mathematics and transition to school: International perspectives (pp.15-31). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.