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Our New Assessment Approach in Preschool

We all know the importance of preschool assessment – it helps us understand our little learners and tailor our teaching to their needs. But traditional assessment periods can sometimes feel overwhelming, right? Think about it… you spend weeks testing students on all of the end of the year skills, multiple times a year. But, what if you were only focusing on specific skills to assess for each testing period? You’d be doing LESS assessing. Now you can use that time saved to TEACH those missing skills in small group!

I playfully named this approach ‘The Storybook Method’, because just like a storybook has a beginning, middle and end – so can our assessment periods. We can break up our end of the year goals into 3 testing periods.

Why use the Storybook Method for Preschool Assessment?

  • Assessments are Boring: How many children do you know that like to sit at the table and answer questions for long periods of time? Very few. It’s boring (for us and our students). Why not keep it to the necessary minimum?
  • Sometimes it’s pointless: Assessing syllables and letter sounds at the beginning of the year can be a waste of time in a lot of classrooms. Most of our students just don’t know these yet – because we haven’t taught them and they are end of the year goals.
  • Get Specific: This method helps you get more specific on what you want to focus on. Not just in assessments, but also in instruction. The skills are you are going to be looking for on the assessment are skills you should be focused on in whole group, small group and center activities.

Skill Break-Down

Different end-of-the-year skills lend themselves better to different times of the year. For example, color, shapes and counting are great to assess at the beginning of the year. Where syllables, rhyming and letter sounds are better suited towards the end of the year. When we break skills down into 3 testing periods we can take a more focused look at planning those skills all while shortening our assessments.


Now, you may thinking… but I need benchmark data! Okay, do it. Just be very particular on how much benchmark data you actually need. You may also be thinking… don’t I need a pre-assessment before teaching a skill? Well, if you want to. But remember that observations during play and small group can go a long way. Could observing give you the data you need?

With this approach there is one thing that is VERY important to do and that RE-ASSESSMENT.

Not all children will be proficient in all the skills when we assess them, so re-assessment is necessary – but only on the missing skills. For example, if a child couldn’t name all the shapes when assessing at the beginning of the year, this tells me we need to work on that. Then, come mid-year I re-assess to see if any more shape names were picked up. See how this guides my instruction and tells me if what we were working on is working? I have more information about the reassessment process in the full guide: Cutting Down on Assessment Time in the Preschool Classroom.

The 4-Step Process to Storybook your Assessments

Step 1: Get Ready. Print off your EOY goals or current assessment recording sheet. Also, gather 3 different colored highlighters.

Step 2: Get Sorting. Go through each skill and determine if the skill lends itself best to the beginning, middle or end of the year. Use the highlighters to color-code each skill. Tip: start with beginning of the year and find easier skills, then move to the end of the year with harder skills and finish with the middle of the year based on what it is left.

Step 3 : Get Listing. Create your own Beginning-Middle-End lists and use them when you go to assess. Only assess the skills that are in that specific testing period.

Step 4: Get re-assessing. Decide on your re-assessment plan. When will you re-assess? Will you use the same assessments? Will you use the same assessments? How will you record the new data?

Want to see my BME skills list, as well as get a FULL GUIDE to preschool assessment with the Storybook Method? Sign up below to get it in your inbox for free!

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Cutting Down on Assessment Time

Discover the Storybook Method to assessment and learn how it can save you TIME and save your students testing fatigue!

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I love helping preschool teachers be the best they can be, by providing quality resources and sharing fun ideas!

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