NC Early Learning Inventory

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North Carolina Early Learning Inventory

The North Carolina Early Learning Inventory (NC ELI) is the updated kindergarten entry assessment formerly known as the NC KEA. NC ELI is an observation-based formative assessment that includes a set of developmental progressions across the 5 domains of learning and development (language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge, approaches toward learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social and emotional development). Teachers document student’s learning and development with evidence within an online portfolio (Teaching Strategies GOLD®) to substantiate a child’s skill attainment along the developmental progressions and utilize this information to personalize instruction for students. 

The NC Department of Public Instruction recognizes formative assessment as an important component of a 21st Century Balanced Assessment System and has dedicated resources to support its use in NC schools. The formative assessment process as defined by the CCSSO is:

Formative assessment is a planned, ongoing process used by all students and teachers during learning and teaching to elicit and use evidence of student learning to improve student understanding of intended disciplinary learning outcomes and support students to become self-directed learners. Effective use of the formative assessment process requires students and teachers to integrate and embed the following practices in a collaborative and respectful classroom environment:

  • Clarifying learning goals and success criteria within a broader progression of learning;
  • Eliciting and analyzing evidence of student thinking;
  • Engaging in self-assessment and peer feedback;
  • Providing actionable feedback; and
  • Using evidence and feedback to move learning forward by adjusting learning strategies, goals, or next instructional steps.

The NC ELI is an observation-based, ongoing, formative assessment that utilizes developmental progressions across 5 domains of development to support the whole child. In contrast to direct assessment, observation-based, ongoing, formative assessment occurs during moments throughout the school day and is not an assessment event that takes away from instructional time. Documentation gathered helps teachers identify students’ learning in real time and informs next steps for instruction. Thus, the NC ELI is a process rather than an instrument to be administered.

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