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;
for the full state of Maryland, the composite score for children
entering Kindergarten was 60% fully ready; 34% approaching
readiness, and 6% developing readiness. There is much debate
on what to do about how to raise these scores.
In this article we will talk about
the Work Sampling System, the system in Maryland
that trains public school teachers and child care providers
called the Maryland Model for School Readiness,
and what parents and caregivers alike can do to help children
with the skills that they need in order to enter school ready
link below to jump directly to:
Activity Ideas to Promote School
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
The instrument they use to assess
children is called the Work Sampling System,
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
The Maryland Model for School Readiness
is a training for teachers who work with children to better
incorporate the Work Sampling System into their daily classroom
Teachers completing the Maryland
Model for School Readiness 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 is done without using any
evaluation. 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 example
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 includes the Work Sampling System
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
training allows teachers to better evaluate their own instruction,
curriculum, and learning environment based on children’s 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, Villa Julie College, 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 2001 through a generous grant
from the Maryland Department of Human Resources – Child Care
Administration, Maryland Family Network was able to
provide wider training in the state to over 200 professionals
in the child care profession. Now in its second year, this
project has trained over 45 trainers in how to conduct this
training throughout the state, and has trained over 180 child
care providers in Modules 1 – 5 of MMSR (with Modules 6 –
9 to be completed by the spring of 2003).
to Promote School Readiness
To be fully prepared to begin kindergarten,
children need to develop skills in seven developmental areas
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.