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.

The early years are a time of rapid learning and development, and progress varies widely between children. Effective assessment is based on expectations that are appropriate for where each child is at and reflects that each child progresses in their own way.

Assessment strategies that support this Principle include:

  • Build an understanding of the continuum of learning from infancy and across the early childhood years. Understanding the trajectories of how children’s knowledge and skills may develop can inform and guide the assessment process, and help you to consider the impact of culture on learning priorities for children and families.
  • Draw on resources that show how learning and development builds over time (such as the early childhood learning trajectories) to help you set reasonable expectations and recognise children’s unique strengths, progress and needs.
  • Gather evidence of children’s progress across domains and Learning Outcomes to ensure a holistic approach that focuses on the whole child. This means capturing evidence that spans physical, social, language, emotional, and cognitive development, with an understanding of the impact of social and cultural contexts on learning and development.
  • Acknowledge each child’s unique strengths, abilities and ways of learning. This will assist you when deciding how to intentionally support each child to build their knowledge and skills through play-based learning. Drawing on your understanding of how children respond to challenges can provide additional insights that will help ensure that learning goals and expectations are not set too high or low.
  • Recognise areas that the child may require support with, including when evidence shows signs of an underlying need for reasonable adjustments.

Reflection questions:

  • What assumptions and biases do you hold about how children learn and develop, and how do you adjust these expectations to recognise each child’s unique strengths?
  • How do you support children and families to set realistic, aspirational expectations for learning and development, including those who may face barriers to learning?

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 organisations. https://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