ASSESSING OBJECTIVES FOR KINDERGARTEN
The objective I’ve chosen to assess is “Objective 2: Uses letter–sound knowledge.” This objective judges whether a children can distinguish the individual sounds associated with the 26 letters of the alphabet.
Formulative assessments for this particular objective can manifest in at least three different ways. One important factor is that students should be able to demonstrate the objective in both directions. A child must be able to match letter to sound and match sound to letter. An assessment is incomplete unless both are tested.
Assessment #1: An example of an assessment that could be student-centric or teacher-centric would be to play a game where the teacher elicits responses from students. For example, I would say “Can you think of something that starts with the letter/sound...” and the students would have the freedom to volunteer whatever comes to mind. This assessment is less rigid than others. Students can provide a wide variety of answers, but it still requires them to meet the criteria “starts with letter/sound,” which is the factor that must be assessed. This is a good means of assessment because a child who is just learning English will have a very small vocabulary. The lax nature of this assessment allows even students with small vocabularies to contribute, and children with larger vocabularies can provide more complex responses. If you wanted to adapt this assessment to be more teacher-centered, the teacher could pre-select images and words, and choose students to identify the letters/sounds associated with them.
Assessment #2: If the assessment were meant to be more student-centered, one way to do so would be to perform it as an activity, such as making a poster or book using the alphabet. Give the students blank papers and then magazines with English words in them. Tell them they have to locate all 26 letters of the alphabet in the magazine, cut them out, and paste them in the correct order. As the students are performing this activity, the teacher can ask them to identify the sounds the letters make, and observe/correct them if they are out of order. One rationale for doing an activity this way is that it puts kids in a calm state of production, where they are not concerned with being assessed and simply consider the teacher’s queries to be casual conversation. It also encourages the children to look at the use of alphabetical characters in the context of daily life, through realia. Although the assessment would be difficult to measure, it would show the students are capable of understanding the objective in different contexts.
Assessment #3: I would like to have written assessments that I can use for grading, progress reports, or portfolios. During writing practice, I would like to provide students with worksheets. These worksheets would each have one letter of the alphabet, along with several pictures. Only one of the pictures would start with the letter. Students would be asked to select the picture that starts with the same letter/sound. Ideally, students would sound out the names of the images in their heads, or whisper to themselves, and select the correct answer (B - Bee, S - Shirt). The need for formal written results means that this is a rational method for assessing the objective.