This resource is part of a series of 8 practice resources for assessment for children’s learning in early childhood education and care services (ECEC). Each resource is aligned with the Principles of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF V2.0).

About this resource

Before using this resource, read the Introduction: Assessment for children’s learning. The introduction provides insights into the importance of assessment in quality, evidence-based ECEC practice with cultural responsiveness at its heart.

Effective assessment involves thinking deeply and critically about the evidence you have collected relating to children’s learning, development and wellbeing. It also involves continually appraising and building your own knowledge and skills in assessment practice. Critical Reflection (Element 1.3.2) is embedded in the National Quality Standard (NQS).

Assessment strategies that support this Principle include:

  • Develop reflexive practices through ongoing professional learning to identify and address personal bias and inequities, and the impact these have on pedagogical practice.
  • Consider how theory and professional resources can provide ideas and perspectives that both affirm and challenge your thinking and practice. Use resources that translate research and evidence into ideas and concepts that you can use in everyday practice (such as the early childhood learning trajectories).
  • Reflect on your own assessment practice to identify areas in which you feel capable and confident, as well as those you can further develop. Build your knowledge of assessment approaches that can assist you to provide a holistic and authentic representation of each child’s learning and development.
  • Reflect on what is occurring in your service, access knowledge and ideas from outside your service, and make connections between the two. Research evidence can enhance critical reflection by introducing new assessment practices or supporting you to assess your current practice in relation to an evidence base.
  • Draw on a range of professional sources to support the critical reflection process and to ensure that it reflects the social and cultural differences within the service. Consider how theory, service philosophies and underpinning ethics (such as the ECA Code of Ethics) are pivotal in promoting and sustaining equity, inclusion and socially just practice.

Reflection questions:

  • Which areas of learning and development do you feel most confident noticing and assessing? How can you deepen your knowledge of how children learn?
  • How do you gather evidence and ideas to improve your assessment practice? How can you access reliable sources from inside and outside your service?

This practice resource is part of a series of 8 Assessment for children’s learning practice resources:

  • Secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships
  • Partnerships
  • Respect for diversity
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives
  • Equity, inclusion and high expectations
  • Sustainability
  • Critical reflection and ongoing professional learning
  • Collaborative leadership and teamwork.

They link to the early childhood learning trajectories suite of resources including the Learning trajectories user guide, Evidence report and the Play-based learning and intentionality practice resources.

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. (2012). Developmental milestones and the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standardhttps://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-02/DevelopmentalMilestonesEYLFandNQS.pdf

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. (2016). Sustainability in children’s education and carehttps://www.acecqa.gov.au/latest-news/blog/sustainability-childrens-education-and-care

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. (2019). Documentation – What, why and howhttps://www.acecqa.gov.au/latest-news/blog/documentation-what-why-and-how

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. (2020a). Guide to the National Quality Framework. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/nqf/about/guide

Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority. (2020b). Children with disability in ECEC and school age education. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-08/ACECQA-DiscussionPaper-DSEConsultation_1.pdf

Australian Government Department of Education. (2022). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia V2.0. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-01/EYLF-2022-V2.0.pdf

Alvernik, K. (2018). Systematic documentation: Structures and tools in a practice of communicative documentation. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 19(1), 72–84. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463949118762147

Arthur, L., Beecher, B., Death, E., Dockett, S., & Farmer, S. (2018). Programming and planning in early childhood setting (7th ed.). Cengage.

Blaisdell, C., McNair, L., Addison, L., & Davis, J. (2021). ‘Why am I in all of these pictures?’ From learning stories to lived stories: The politics of children’s participation rights in documentation practices. European Early Childhood Research Association Journal, 30(4), 572–585. https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2021.2007970

Brebner, C., Attrill. S., Marsh. C., & Coles. L. (2017). Facilitating children’s speech, language and communication development: An exploration of an embedded, service-based professional development program. Child Language Teaching Therapy, 33(3), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/0265659017702205

Bruno, A., Galuppo, L., & Gilardi, S. (2011). Evaluating the reflexive practices in learning experiences. European Journal of Psychology Education, 26(4), 527-543. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-011-0061-x

Commonwealth of Australia, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (2021). Keeping our kids safe: Cultural safety and the national principles for child safe organisationshttps://www.childsafety.gov.au/resources/keeping-our-kids-safe-cultural-safety-and-national-principles-child-safe-organisations-guide-0

Cowan, K., & Flewitt, K. (2021). Moving from paper-based to digital documentation in early childhood education: Democratic potentials and challenges. International Journal of Early Years Education. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/09669760.2021.2013171

Dawson, J., Laccos-Barrett, K., Hammon, C., & Rumbold, A. (2022). Reflexive practice as an approach to improve healthcare delivery for Indigenous people: A systematic critical synthesis and exploration of the cultural safety education literature. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19(11), 6691. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116691

Department of Employment Education and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/2018-02/belonging_being_and_becoming_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia.pdf

Department of Employment Education and Workplace Relations. (2010). Educators’ guide to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. https://www.acecqa.gov.au/sites/default/files/acecqa/files/National-Quality-Framework-Resources-Kit/educators_guide_to_the_early_years_learning_framework_for_australia_2.pdf

Dockett, S. (2011). Ethical assessment. Every Child, 17(3), 7–8.

Edwards, S., & Nuttall, J. (2009). Introduction. In S. Edwards & J. Nuttall (Eds.), Professional learnings in early childhood settings (pp. 1–8)Sense Publishers.

Elliot, S. (2019, May 1). Education for sustainability. The Spokehttps://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/education-for-sustainability/

Elek, C., Gibberd, A., Gubhaju, L., Lennx, J., Highfold, R., Goldfeld, S., & Eades, S. (2022). An opportunity for our little ones: Findings from an evaluation of an Aboriginal early childhood learning centre in Central Australia. Early childhood Education Journal, 50, 579–591. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-021-01174-5

Epstein, A. (2014). The intentional teacher: Choosing the best strategies for young children’s learning. The National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Flottman, R., Stewart, L., & Tayler, C. (2012). Practice Principle 7: Assessment for learning and development (Evidence Paper)University of Melbourne and Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. https://www.education.vic.gov.au/documents/childhood/providers/edcare/pracassess.pdf

Hallahan, G. (2021, September 15). The assessment bias trap: What the TAGs taught us. TES Magazine. https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/secondary/assessment-bias-trap-what-tags-taught-us

Harrison. L., Bull. R., Wong, S., Elwick, S., & Davis, B. (2019). NSW assessment study: Review of formative assessment practices in early childhood settings. NSW Department of Educationhttps://education.nsw.gov.au/content/dam/main-education/early-childhood-education/working-in-early-childhood-education/media/documents/formative-assessment/nsw-preschool-assessment-study-review-of-formative-assessment.pdf

Hart Barnett, J., & O’Shaughnessy, K. (2015). Enhancing collaboration between occupational therapists and early childhood educators working with children on the Autism spectrum. Early Childhood Education Journal, 43(6), 467–472. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-015-0689-2

Hedges, H., Cullen, J., & Jordan, B. (2011). Early years curriculum: Funds of knowledge as a conceptual framework for children’s interests. Curriculum Studies, 43(2), 185–205. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2010.511275

Indigenous Allied Health Australia (2019). Cultural responsiveness in active framework. https://iaha.com.au/workforce-support/training-and-development/cultural-responsiveness-in-action-training/

Kennedy, A. (2018, July 10). Reflective practice: Making a commitment to ongoing learning. The Spoke. https://thespoke.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/reflective-practice-making-commitment-ongoing-learning/

Klaar, S., & Wank, A. (2022). ECE as an educative and multifaceted practice for growth: To assess and evaluate teaching and learning by documenting children’s actions and re-actions. European Early Childhood Research Journal, 30(4), 557–571. https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2022.2070649

McMullen, M. (2018). The many benefits of continuity of care for infants, toddlers, families and caregiving staff. Young Children, 73(3),38–39. https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/jul2018/benefits-continuity-care

National Association for the Education of Young Children and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2003). Position statement: Early childhood curriculum, assessment and program evaluation. https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/position-statements/pscape.pdf

National Indigenous Australians Agency. (2021). National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood strategyhttps://www.niaa.gov.au/resource-centre/indigenous-affairs/national-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-early-childhood-strategy

Nolan, A., & Raban, B. (2015). Theories into practice: Understanding and rethinking our work with young children and the EYLF. Teaching Solutions.

Waters, C. (2019, October 1). Learn more about learning progressions. ACER Discover. https://www.acer.org/au/discover/article/learn-more-about-learning-progressions


Keywords: educator reflection, educator professional development