Child Assessment: Work Sampling and Ounce Scale

Developmentally Appropriate Practice (DAP) is a term you may hear often when discussing education and curriculum. It is an important term when ensuring that the teaching and lessons are deliberately planned for young children in mind. DAP refers to a philosophical orientation that involves a constructivist approach to the teaching of young children, as well as responsive care and education that is mindful of the development of the whole child. Constructivist teaching is based on the belief that learning occurs as learners are actively involved in a process of meaning and knowledge construction rather than passively receiving information. Learners are the makers of meaning and knowledge. Constructivist teaching fosters critical thinking and creates motivated and independent learners. In order for teachers to know what to teach the children in their care, they need to know what is developmentally appropriate, what the children currently know and what they are ready to learn. Teachers use the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards to know what they should be teaching. They teach based on what is developmentally appropriate and they know what the children are ready for because they use assessments. LifeSpan School and Day Care use Ounce and Work Sampling.

The Ounce Scale: An Infant Toddler Observational Assessment

The Ounce Scale is an assessment system for use with infants and toddlers from birth to 3-1/2 years old. It has three parts:

  1. The Observation Record is used to record observations of children’s behavior and keep track of their development. LifeSpan teachers record these observations in two ways. One method of observation record is through daily reflections on the teachers’ lesson plans. Teachers reflect on their plans for the day, what worked and didn’t work, what skills need work and more focus, as well as what skills are learned and can be enhanced. The second method of observation is bi-weekly reflections. The bi-weekly reflections are based on each individual child and help the teacher to understand what they need to help the child with as their learning continues.
  2. The Family Album is used by families with teacher guidance to collect their observations, photos and mementos of their child’s growth and development.
  3. The Developmental Profiles and Standards are a rating scale used to evaluate children’s growth and development at the end of each of the 8 age levels contained in The Ounce Scale. Each item on the Developmental Profiles is described in the accompanying standards.

The Ounce Scale focuses on 6 areas of development. In each area, the scale poses 2 or 3 questions. The 6 areas of development are:

  • Personal Connections – It’s About Trust
  • Feelings About Self – Learning About Me
  • Relationships With Other Children – Child to Child
  • Understanding and Communicating – Baby, Toddler and Preschooler Discoveries
  • Exploration and Problem Solving – Baby, Toddler and Preschooler Discoveries
  • Movement and Coordination – Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers in Motion

The Ounce Scale is divided into the following 8 age levels: birth to 4 months, 4 to 8 months, 8 to 12 months, 12 to 18 months, 18 to 24 months, 24 to 30 months, 30 to 36 months and 36 to 42 months.

The Work Sampling System: Developmental Guidelines

The Work Sampling System is an instructional assessment that is used in preschool through sixth grade. Its purpose is to document and assess children’s skills, knowledge, behavior and accomplishment across a wide variety of curriculum areas on multiple occasions in order to enhance teaching and learning.

The Work Sampling System consists of 3 complementary elements:

  1. Developmental Guidelines and Checklist
  2. Portfolios
  3. Summary Reports

Work Sampling calls for ongoing assessment that is summarized 3 times per year. By reflecting classroom goals and objectives, it helps teachers monitor children’s continuous progress and places children’s work within a broad developmental perspective. Through documenting and evaluating individual performance of classroom-based tasks, Work Sampling strengthens student motivation, assists teachers in instructional decision-making, and serves as an effective means for reporting children’s progress to families, educators and community. Children are assessed on 7 areas of development.

  • Personal and social development assesses the child’s self concept, self control, approach to learning, interactions with others and social problem solving.
  • Language and literacy assesses children’s skills on listening, speaking, reading and writing.
  • Mathematical thinking assesses on mathematical processes, number and operations, pattern, relationships, and functions, geometry and spatial relations, as well as measurement.
  • Scientific thinking assesses the child’s use of senses to observe and explore the classroom, the ability to use tools for investigation and ability to make comparisons.
  • Social studies encompass history, economics, citizenship and geography.
  • The arts assess the child’s engagement with the arts rather than ability with techniques.
  • Physical development and health assesses gross motor development, fine motor development and personal health and safety.