Supporting the Teachers in Internal Individualization and Differentiation in the First Grade of Primary School and in Monitoring Their Professional Development Maša Vidmar
Summary: The principle of learning individualization and related learning differentiation is one of the central principles in the Slovenian schools. Preizkus temeljnih kompetentnosti otrok ob vstopu v šolo (Performance indicators in primary schools: On-entry baseline assessment – PIPS; Vidmar and Zupančič, 2006a, 2007) helps the first-grade teacher to obtain information about students› characteristics in a systematic way, thus facilitating internal learning individualization. When performing the same test after one year the students› progress is monitored and this provides feedback for teachers’ professional development. The instrument is the Slovenian version of the British assessment and measures early reading and early math competences. In the current study, the assessment was conducted individually with 328 Slovenian students at the beginning of the first grade and then a year later again with the same students. The PIPS instrument has a one-factor structure and adequate reliability. At the beginning of the first grade, students have to some extent developed concepts about reading, phonological awareness, letter identification, addition and subtraction skills, and numbers identification, and to a lesser extent reading. The differences among children in basic competencies are considerable, which indicates the importance and necessity of learning individualization in the first grade. After one year, significant improvement was observed in all the PIPS tasks. The PIPS assessment is potentially useful for teachers and schools in practice, but there are also certain challenges related with its use.