The Assessment for children's learning practice resources support teachers and educators in early childhood education and care (ECEC) to improve their assessment for children’s learning.

About this resource

Read this introduction before using any of the 8 practice resources, to support your understanding of assessment for children’s learning. It will also assist you in understanding cultural responsiveness and being critically reflexive.

The Assessment for children’s learning practice resources identify evidence-based assessment practices aligned with the 8 principles of the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF V2.0). These resources can stand alone, or can be used with:

  • Early childhood learning trajectories to improve your understanding of how children learn and develop in key domains, including how each of these domains contributes to the integrated Learning Outcomes in the EYLF V2.0.
  • Play-based learning and intentionality practice resources to identify evidence-based practices aligned with the 8 principles of the EYLF V2.0.

These practice resources align to the National Quality Standard (NQS), particularly in Quality Area 1 (Educational program and practices), Quality Area 5 (Relationships with children) and Quality Area 6 (Collaborative partnerships with families and communities).

Assessment in early childhood education and care services

Assessing children’s progress is an important part of quality, evidence-based ECEC practice. It is one of the identified Practices used to promote children’s learning in the EYLF V2.0 and to meet the NQS Elements 1.3 (Assessment and planning) and 7.2.2 (Educational leadership).

The EYLF V2.0 (p. 28) notes that:

Educators draw on a range of sources of information including their professional knowledge and early childhood theories to clearly identify children’s strengths and capacities and consider these in relation to the Learning Outcomes and/or other assessment criteria. This includes children’s awareness and understanding of their own learning, including the embodied nature of very young children’s demonstration of their own learning goals. Educators draw on their knowledge and the expertise of the children, families, communities and other professionals they work with, to interpret their collection of information. Educators assess children’s learning and engagement in a variety of ways, in the moment and over time, and in diverse context for and with children.

Assessment involves collecting and analysing meaningful evidence about each child’s strengths, progress and needs. There are 3 main types of assessment:

  • Assessment for learning, also referred to as formative assessment, occurs when teachers and educators use a range of strategies to gather detailed and meaningful information about children’s interests, abilities, and learning dispositions. They then use this information to inform decisions about curriculum and pedagogy, to assist in responding to each child’s different learning pathways.
  • Assessment of learning, also referred to as summative assessment, sums up what children have learned at a point in time, such as mid-year or when they are transitioning to another room at the service. Teachers and educators are also able to identify how each child’s learning progresses over time.
  • Assessment as learning occurs when the assessment process is itself a learning experience that involves input from children. Children are supported to actively contribute to the assessment process. This supports a curriculum to reflect ways of knowing, being and doing.

The EYLF V2.0 identifies 5 stages of the planning cycle: observe, assess, plan, implement and evaluate.

Teachers and educators may use many different methods and tools to engage in assessment for learning as part of the broader, ongoing cycle.

These evidence-based resources identify strategies you can use to improve your assessment practice and align it with the EYLF Principles.

The EYLF V2.0 (p. 6) notes the following vision for children’s learning:

All children engage in learning that promotes confident and creative individuals and successful lifelong learners. All children are active and informed members of their communities with knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander perspectives.

Cultural responsiveness

Cultural responsiveness is a key focus in assessment for learning. This requires teachers and educators to be critically reflexive about their own identities, culture, histories and biases. They can then consider how this impacts the development of relationships with, and understanding of, the children and families at their service and within the communities in which they live and work. It is this capability that helps to create welcoming and culturally safe environments.

Critical reflection supports this process and includes in-depth thinking about practice and its impact. It involves teachers and educators becoming more aware of their strengths and preferences, as well as areas where they can further build their knowledge, skills and confidence. Reflexivity further extends on critical reflection to promote and foster culturally responsive practice.

Reflexive practice invites teachers and educators to engage deeply and honestly in conversations with themselves and others. This process provides opportunities to examine and unpack personal beliefs, attitudes, biases and ways of thinking, with a view to engaging with people in a culturally safe manner. This understanding is deeply connected to knowing (the knowledge we hold and our understanding of how we gained this knowledge), being (our self-knowledge and practices) and doing (the actions that we put into place).

These practice resources identify strategies you can use to improve your approach to assessment for children’s learning and align it with the EYLF V2.0 Principles. In this way, these resources support practices that are both culturally responsive and informed by relevant research.

This introduction 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 Standard. https://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 Spoke. https://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 Education. https://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 strategy. https://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