Rethink Kindergarten Assessment

Constructing an Integrated Assessment Framework for Play-based Kindergarten Education

What is this study about?

Kindergarten education in Canada is changing. Within the current accountability context of public education, kindergarten teachers are required to use assessments to identify students’ learning needs, guide instruction, and measure student growth towards academic standards. Simultaneously, kindergarten teachers are mandated to use play-based pedagogies to promote student learning during this critical developmental period. A central challenge facing kindergarten teachers is the integration of assessment within play-based learning contexts.

Previous research has shown that teachers struggle to interpret and integrate contemporary assessment theory and policies.  This struggle is compounded for kindergarten teachers because no comprehensive framework exists to support teachers’ use of assessment within academically-driven, play-based learning contexts. Our research directly responds to the challenge of developing an assessment framework, that integrates academic standards and play-based developmental pedagogies, germane to Canadian educational contexts.

Why is this study important?

This project builds substantively on our previous SSHRC-funded research to construct an empirically validated assessment framework for play-based kindergarten education. The gap in research concerning kindergarten assessment is problematic because (a) integrating assessment has been shown to increase student learning, and (b) kindergarten is a critical period for establishing students’ approaches to academic learning leading to future school success. This study will address this gap by constructing a comprehensive kindergarten assessment framework predicated on assessment theory, policy, and teachers’ actual classroom practices in play-based learning contexts. Through data collection activities and our multi-stakeholder knowledge mobilization plan, results will be presented to educators and policymakers in an accessible form to support practical efforts at enhancing the quality of assessment in kindergarten classrooms. Academically, this research will provide a theoretical foundation for a broad spectrum of future research activities aimed at assessment within kindergarten contexts.

Selected Journal Publications

DeLuca, C., Pyle, A., Roy, S., Chalas, A., & Daniels, E. (2019). Perspectives on kindergarten assessment: Towards a common understanding. Teachers College Record, 121(3), 1-58.

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Wickstrom, H., Pyle, A., & DeLuca, C. (2019). Does theory translate into practice? An observational study of current mathematics pedagogies in play-based kindergarten. Early Childhood Education Journal. DOI: 10.1007/s10643-018-00925-1

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Braund, H., & DeLuca, C. (2018). Elementary students as active agents in their learning: An empirical study of the connections between assessment practices and student metacognition. Australian Educational Researcher: Special Issue on Student Agency in Classroom Assessment, 45(1), 65-85.

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Pyle, A., De Luca, C., & Danniels, E. (2017). A scoping review of research on play-based pedagogies in kindergarten education. Review of Education, 5(3), 311-351.

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Pyle, A., De Luca, C., & Danniels, E. (2017). Context and implications Document for: A scoping review of research on play-based pedagogies in kindergarten education. Review of Education, 5(3), 352-353.
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Pyle, A., & DeLuca, C. (2017). Assessment in play-based kindergarten classrooms: An empirical study of teacher perspectives and practices. The Journal of Educational Research, 110(5), 457–466.

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DeLuca, C., & Hughes, S. (2014). Assessment in early primary education: An empirical study of five school contexts. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 28(4), 441-460.
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Pyle, A., & DeLuca, C. (2013). Assessment in the kindergarten classroom: An empirical study of teachers' assessment approaches. Early Childhood Education Journal, 41(5), 373-380.

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