The reason behind an educational assessment needs to be to improve the education process, not to determine whether or not the child is meeting the school’s goals. If we are assessing to see if children are failing, what are we doing with that information. Learning is a complex task, that each person accomplishes differently. As educators, we need to examine how a child thinks, not just what they know.
I feel that it is impossible to get a comprehensive picture of a child’s development through the use of one test or screener. Educators need to be conducting on-going assessments. Culture and personal experience is a large part of learning, assessments need to take into account the experiences of the child. We want all children to succeed, not just those who fall into the demographics of a prescribed normative standard. Looking at the whole child includes their home-life, their beliefs, and attitudes about learning.
For this assignment, I looked into the school assessment process in Finland. I found out that their education system is quite different than ours. All children in Finland receive two years of a high quality government preschool program, before entering kindergarten at age 7. Kindergarten is strictly to teach kids self regulation and reflection. There is not an emphasis on academics in preschool. In Finland they offer no programs for gifted student students. There is also little in the way of a standardized testing system.
Finland does assess all children at age five when they begin their preschool experience. They use a holistic model that looks at the child’s social development as well as their cognitive development and overall health and maturity. If children are determined to have a special educational need they use a similar process to our Individual Education Program, to develop individual lessons to for the child’s needs. Speech therapists and other special services are brought into the classroom whenever possible.
One of the differences between the Finish population and that of an American school is the homogenous nature of the Finnish population. The vast majority of student speak the native language when they enter school. In the United States, up to 12% of kindergarteners are English learners. There is also a more equal socioeconomic status among the Finish people. The school system spends the same amount of dollars per child in every school. There are no wealthy or impoverished schools.
European Agency for the Development in Special Needs Education. (2009, April). Innovative assessment tools and methods-Finland. Retrieved from http://www.european-agency.org/agency-projects/assessment-in-inclusive-settings/assessment-database-of-key-topics/finland/innovative-assessment-tools-and-methods
Hanson, T. J. (2011). Several lessons to be learned from the Finnish school system. Retrieved from http://www.openeducation.net/2008/03/10/several-lessons-to-be-learned-from-the-finnish-school-system/