Research indicates that while children from better-off homes make good progress following Grade R, children from poor households do not, and the gap between these two groups widens with age. Quality preschool programmes enable poor children to be ready to benefit from Grade R. However, South Africa lacks a reliable and valid instrument to assess how early learning programmes perform in preparing children for this level of education.

This is changing! Social innovation platform Innovation Edge, supported by Ilifa, has developed an Early Learning Outcomes Measure (ELOM).  ELOM is the first South African pre-school child assessment tool, rigorously standardised, culturally fair and simple to administer that indicates if early childhood development (ECD) programmes are effective in preparing children for Grade R, and identifies areas for improvement.

The ELOM has been constructed to assess two age groups: 50-59 months and 60-69 months.  It is underpinned by Early Learning Development Standards (ELDS) which stipulate what children of particular ages and stages should know and be able to do.  This approach permits the ELOM to be aligned with expectations for children’s knowledge and capabilities that are expressed in South African Early Childhood Development (ECD) programming guidelines such as the National Early Learning Development Standards (NELDS) and National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for Children Birth to Four Years – all developed by the national Department of Basic Education.

The ELOM was developed in three phases and the final Direct Assessment ELOM, revised and ready for public release, has 23 items clustered in five equally weighted domains: Gross Motor Development; Fine Motor Coordination and Visual Motor Integration; Emergent Numeracy and Mathematics; Cognition and Executive Functioning; Emergent Literacy and Language.

Training and accrediting of ELOM assessors will commence by the end of this year, with scaled roll-out planned for 2017.  The diagram below illustrates what the ELOM measures:

Diagram illustrating the metrics measured by ELOM

This article first appeared on The DG Murray Trust website.

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