Education Week helped the debate about the Race to the Top by running an incredibly useful and tight review of the roles of kindergarten assessments in the competition.
The story explores concerns that kindergarten assessments – one of only two absolute priorities states must address in applications for Race to the Top Early Learning grants – could create problems. The proposal has sparked a vibrant and ongoing debate about assessments in early learning, with Education Secretary Arne Duncan and top early learning analyst Sara Mead among those weighing in on the idea.
Now, Ed Week reporter Maureen Kelleher has added an article that covers a lot of ground, including whether assessments could be used to make decisions about who goes to kindergarten and teacher performance.
“We support using assessments as long as they are targeted to improve instruction and classroom environments,” said Ben Allen, the public-policy and research director for the National Head Start Association, based in Washington, which was among the groups submitting comments. “We don’t want assessments to be used to reward or sanction individual children or teachers. A single assessment should not be used as the sole method to evaluate a program.” – New Race to Top Spurs Concerns About Testing Preschoolers, 8/19/11.
Another leading voice in early education warns that a demand for assessments should not erode developmentally-correct approaches to learning.
Even if the new Race to the Top competition spurs an expansion of high-quality assessment tools, said Sharon Lynn Kagan, a co-director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College, Columbia University, “the second trick is going to be using them in a way that does not violate a commitment to play and a focus on exploratory learning for children.”
Check this story out.