The Work Sampling System and the Maryland Model for School Readiness.
Recently there has been a lot of interest in the media regarding children’s readiness levels for school as measured by the Work Sampling System; please click here for current Work Sampling System data.
In this article we will talk about the Work Sampling System, the current system in Maryland that trains public school teachers and child care providers called the Maryland Model for School Readiness 2013, and what parents and caregivers alike can do to help children with the skills that they need in order to enter school ready to learn.
Note: Beginning in the 2014 school year the Work Sampling System will no longer be used. It is being replaced by an assessment that is being developed by the Johns Hopkins Center for Technology Education.
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Activity Ideas to Promote School Readiness
Work Sampling System
The Maryland State Department of Education, in conjunction with local school systems, has put into place a system to assess individual children’s readiness for school.
The instrument they currently use to assess children is called the Work Sampling System, or WSS.
The purpose of the Work Sampling System is to document and assess children’s skills, knowledge, and behavior and accomplishments across a wide variety of classroom activities and areas of learning. This is done on several occasions prior to completing the Work Sampling System Summary Report form for each child.
Unlike a report card, the Work Sampling System helps a teacher determine where a child is, and how the teacher should adjust instruction and the learning environment for the child to progress.
The Work Sampling System includes: Developmental Guidelines and Developmental Checklists, which give teachers a set of observational criteria that are based on national standards and knowledge of child development; Portfolios are purposeful collections of children’s work that illustrate children’s efforts, progress and achievement; and Summary Reports which are completed three times a year and help teachers make classroom decisions about student performance and progress.
The Developmental Checklist is an assessment sheet that a classroom teacher uses in observing a child to determine where a child is developmentally. Each child is assessed within seven domains:
- Personal and Social Development
- Language and Literacy
- Mathematical Thinking
- Scientific Thinking
- Social Studies
- The Arts
- Physical Development.
Based on regular classroom observations, children are assessed based on what is developmentally appropriate for their age. Based on these observations, a child is assessed in each domain as to whether they are:
- Fully ready (proficient, indicates that the skills, knowledge or behavior is firmly within the child’s range of performance);
- Approaching readiness (in process, meaning the skill, knowledge or behavior is emerging and is not demonstrated by the child consistently), or
- Developing readiness (not yet ready, meaning the skill, knowledge or behavior has not been demonstrated in observations by the teacher).
Individual children may be fully ready in one or more of the domains (e.g. social studies, the arts, physical development), and either approaching readiness or developing readiness in other domains (e.g. language and literacy, scientific thinking).
The intent of the Work Sampling System is to help teachers and parents understand where a child is in his or her development and what kinds of experiences are necessary to provide for that child in order to build on their current knowledge base.
There is no set curriculum for meeting the goals of the seven domains. Each child will meet them on their own time and through regular daily experiences. It is up to parents, child care providers, and preschool teachers to provide enriching experiences that lead to a life-long love of learning.
Maryland Model for School Readiness 2013
Maryland Model for School Readiness 2013 is a training for child care providers who work with children to better incorporate an assessment into their daily classroom routines and activities.
Teachers completing the Maryland Model for School Readiness 2013 training go through training that helps them in learning or re-learning observation skills, learning how to document children’s behavior, learning how to assess children’s behavior in comparison to development guidelines, and how to adjust curriculum, instruction, and learning environment in order to better address each child where he or she is.
Observation is an important skill for a teacher to use in his/her classroom. True observation gives the teacher a clear picture of the child and his or her abilities. True observation means that objective, factual information is collected on a child. These observational notes help a teacher understand where a child is at any point in time, and will give the teacher an understanding of a child’s development over a period of time.
Documentation is another important skill. Documentation includes a teachers observational notes, but also includes representations and examples of children’s work. It is recommended that a teacher collect notes and examples of children’s work in a portfolio, and individual record for that child. Such a portfolio helps the teacher understand how a child has progressed over time and what the child’s interests and abilities may include. As part of the Work Sampling System, teachers need to keep examples and notes of a child’s work in each of the seven domain areas.
Assessment includes taking the observational notes and other examples of work in the Portfolio, and rating a child’s progress against general developmental criteria. When a teacher is assessing, they are looking for areas of strength, where a child may be above a normal developmental indicator (e.g. in language and literacy) as well as where a child may fall short of a developmental indicator (e.g. mathematical thinking). The main assessment instruments suggested for a teacher to use at this time includes the Work Sampling System materials.
Such assessments help a teacher understand where additional work through instruction, adjustment of curriculum, or adjustment of the learning environment may be needed. The Maryland Model for School Readiness does not stress any particular curriculum; the MMSR 2013 training allows teachers to better evaluate their own instruction, curriculum, and learning environment based on children’s progress or lack-of-progress.
Maryland Model for School Readiness Training for Teachers
The Maryland State Department of Education has conducted extensive training in the State of Maryland with pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten public school instructional staff in the Maryland Model for School.
In 1998 Maryland Family Network (then Maryland Committee for Children), in collaboration with the Maryland State Department of Education, Stevenson University, and Head Start of Maryland began Maryland Model for School Readiness training for child care providers in the state. The initial pilot training, sponsored by a generous grant from Constellation Energy, allowed MFN to train 50 child care providers over a two year period of time. The results of that training were very encouraging. Using the Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale conducted by an outside evaluator, we found that there was a 15% increase in scores between the time participants started the training and when they finished the training.
In 2013 the Maryland Model for School Readiness was revised from nine, six hour modules to five, six hour modules. MMSR 2013 places a greater focus on working with culturally and ethnically diverse children, families, and staff members as well an extended emphasis on working with children with special needs. School readiness remains the essential focus of MMSR.
Activities to Promote School Readiness
To be fully prepared to begin kindergarten, children need to develop skills in seven developmental areas or "domains."
Click on each developmental area, listed below, to see a list of skills appropriate for ages 3. 4. and 5, followed by a list of activity ideas you can do to help children develop these skills.