Today was our first assessment day. Overall, I believe that it was very successful day, despite several challenges. When we arrived, we set up in an extra building on the school campus and started setting up and organizing. Sarah, Veronica**, and I are doing the assessing. Veronica is a kindergarten teacher that Sarah worked with in the past and who is familiar with the community. At the beginning of the day, I started by training Sarah and Veronica to give the assessment. Then, we assessed five students today. Because we wanted to make sure we were working taratibu (carefully), one person would assess and the others word watch, and ask questions or support. After working with the first two or three children, we made some adjustments to the assessment to increase the cultural responsiveness and to cut down on some questions, they would not know because they have only been in standard 1 for six months. Because this is a curriculum based assessment, based on what the children will know at the end of standard 1 and not a norm-referenced assessment, this abbreviation was appropriate.
I originally created this assessment for my dissertation work and a different group of students, but have modified in several times to fine tune it to use as an assessment for standard 1 children in public primary schools. It is an interesting process just to look at the cultural difference in education and in what kids know and don’t know at a given age. For example, students who can read sentences fluently in English, have generally mastered a good number of sight words and some additional vocabulary. In Kiswahili, because it is phonetic with rare exceptions (if any), students can read sentences by sounding out words and may or many not know the meaning. This is also evident from watching the methods of teaching in each country of literacy. The phonetic nature of the language or lack there of as well as resource issues have dictated teaching methods. But I digress.
The students were well behaved and cooperative during the assessment and tomorrow we move on to each person assessing on their own so that we can get through a lot more kids and push through the work. It is kind of scary, but exciting at the same time. My Swahili is slowly coming back, but I am sure after a full day of assessment, I will have many words back out of necessity. Today we worked through some kinks and tomorrow it will be much smoother. Also, the teachers were in a meeting most of the day so there was less supervision, so sometimes children would want to come and watch us during the assessment and hang out around the door opening. Tomorrow, we will need to diligently ignore the children when they are on break and keep working. But we have begun and that is what is most important.
Kesho tutajitahidi sana! (Tomorrow we will work very hard!)
**I have permission for the pictures, her name as been changed to comply with my IRB.