I had the opportunity to spend some of the holiday season in Kaua'i. On that island there is an amazing wonder called Waimea Canyon. It is considered the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Indeed when we went to see it, I was shocked that this amazing canyon was hiding on an island. That portion of the island was not as it appeared from a distance. A hidden treasure!
I was talking with a group of students today about NAEYC's requirements for 'multiple measures' to be used in tracking children's progress. That information is part of Standard 4 in NAEYC's Accreditation process. It is critical for us to individualize enough so that we can monitor the progress of each child. Sometimes children can fool us with their knowledge when they are in a group setting. Just like Waimea Canyon, things may not be as they appear. Within the classroom we can easily assume a child has mastered a skill that may still be a challenge for her individually. Without individualization and assessment, we would not know about the additional support that she may need. I remember a child I had a number of years ago that I assumed was a solid reader. He seemed to fit into our reading program well. However, when I asked him to read to me one day, he read a paragraph completely different than what was in print. The irony was that when he was finished he had stated the same information that was in the paragraph, just using different words and rewording sentences. Without individualized attention, his lack of skills may have been like the canyon-completely unknown from a distance. Individualized assessment allows us to explore every skill canyon that we are trying to reach. Assessment can keep us from false appearances in the classroom.