Research in the fields of neuroscience and cognitive science has provided insights into the capacity of the brain to learn continually throughout life. Learning occurs continually and incrementally along a learning continuum. The rate and pace of learning along the continuum is not fixed and constant; there may be plateaus and even setbacks and different children learn at different rates.
The Victorian Early Years Learning Development Framework (VEYLDF) describes five outcomes for children from birth to 8 years. The Framework recognises that every child will take a unique path to the five Outcomes and that all children will require different levels of support, some requiring significantly more than others.
The Victorian Curriculum F-10 achievement standards recognise that learning in any learning domain occurs along a continuum and children at school from around 5 to 16 years learn at different rates thus the achievement standards are presented in levels from Foundation-10. Any one group of learners may include children who are operating at a wide range of levels across the learning continuum.
For practitioners to provide the learning opportunities that promote excellent progress along the learning continuum, it is helpful to assess where the child is at in their learning and development and what progress they have made so far. This assessment enables the practitioner to understand what the child has learned and determine what the child needs to learn next. They can then set goals for further improvement, design a learning and development program in collaboration with the learner and their family and monitor progress together. In monitoring progress, the practitioner continually makes assessments (for example by observation, setting tests, and discussion); the learner self-assesses and they collaboratively adjust the learning program to meet the learner’s needs.
Geoff Masters discusses these concepts in depth in Reforming Educational Assessment: Imperatives, principles and challenges.