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Aligning curriculum and assessment in early reading education

Mon, April 15, 3:15 to 4:45pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Atrium (Level 2), Waterfront A


Achieving the alignment of curriculum and assessment is a perennial challenge in the field of children’s early reading development. Historically, educational stakeholders and policymakers have sought to achieve this alignment by designing curricula to develop young students’ cognitive strategies and skills, and then designing assessments that measure their growth. In my presentation, I argue that, as critical as these strategies and skills are in early reading development, the narrow focus on these dimensions in alignment efforts is insufficient to create successful, lifelong readers. To be effective, early reading programmes must take into account the findings of recent research that point to the need to work on a wide range of factors involved in children’s reading growth, such as motivation and engagement, self-efficacy, and metacognition. Similarly, the methods used to assess reading should reflect a broader conception of how reading develops. Any discussion of the alignment between curriculum and assessment must, therefore, give due consideration to the complexity of the construct of early reading development.
I begin by describing how curriculum and assessment align with constructs and standards. Next, I argue that the construct of early reading development is continually evolving, and that attempts to create optimal curriculum and assessment alignments must take this dynamic nature of the construct into account. The following section then looks at three factors that strongly influence early reading development: motivation and engagement; self-efficacy; and metacognition. These factors, in addition to the traditional focus on cognitive strategies and reading skills, must be considered from both curricular and assessment perspectives. The paper goes on to discuss types of assessment and curriculum design that reflect this broader view of how students learn. I then focus on the differences and similarities between the intended curricula and the curricula as actually enacted. The presentation concludes with a description of the fundamental principles involved in aligning curriculum and assessment in the field of early reading.