‘Language shades everything’: Considerations and implications for assessing young children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
Keywords:language assessment, early childhood, EAL, narrative inquiry
Assessment of young children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds holds the potential to provide important insights into learning. Two researchers investigated an Allied Health screening program that was conducted in three kindergartens in a disadvantaged area of outer Melbourne, Australia. Drawing on narrative inquiry methodology the researchers explored the understandings given to the screening program by Allied Health professionals and Early Childhood teachers and administrators in relation to CALD children. From analysis of interview and focus group data, insights were gained into the way the screening program employed culturally and linguistically responsive practices. Flexible assessment practices, acknowledgement of children’s linguistic abilities and family- centred practice emerged as key strategies to enhance Early Childhood assessment programs that cater to the strengths and needs of young children from CALD backgrounds. However, the investigation demonstrated that issues of equity and compromise are heightened as policy and practice diverge on how to implement these strategies. In conclusion, it is argued, that targeted professional learning could assist Early Childhood teachers to negotiate this divergent space.
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