How the Learning Story Framework can be Enhanced to Provide Better Assessment Information to Support Planning for Children’s Further Learning: A Critique of the Reliability and Formative Validity of Learning Stories in Aotearoa New Zealand




Learning Stories, Assessment, Early Childhood, Validity, Reliability


Learning stories are the predominant method of assessment in the Aotearoa/New Zealand early childhood education sector. In the present paper, we argue that, while learning stories appropriately emphasise what children can already do, also describing their challenges in learning stories could contribute to planning, independent learning, motivation and self-assessment. Drawing on the first author’s professional experience as an early childhood teacher, a critique of the three components of learning stories’ practice – notice, recognise, and respond – is used to put forward a case for effective strategies to enhance the validity and reliability of these assessments. These components are deployed sequentially in the learning stories assessment process to serve the formative purpose of the approach. The notice component includes a familiar observer, informal sharing of observations and watchful listening to achieve descriptive validity, and the use of children’s own words to achieve interpretative validity. The ‘recognise’ component involves peer review, multiple perspectives, and child plus parental feedback to achieve construct validity. The ‘respond’ component draws attention to multiple perspectives input to achieve accuracy as a property of validity. The application of each strategy also improves the reliability of learning story assessments. 


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Author Biographies

Louise Wanoa, Victoria University of Wellington

Louise Wanoa is a postgraduate student at Victoria University of Wellington and has worked in teaching, tutoring and mentoring roles in education since 2002 both within the early childhood field and the adult education sector.  Her interests centre on educational assessment, student learning, mentoring and coaching, inclusion, and professional learning.

Michael Johnston, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Michael Johnston is Associate Dean (Academic) in the Faculty of Education at Victoria University of Wellington. His research interests centre on the impact of assessment on teaching and learning. He also contributes to public policy on assessment through membership of a number of advisory groups to education agencies.