The Primary Learning Record

K-12 Testing

The Primary Learning Record (PLeR) is a valuable tool for assessing student learning across a range of subjects. It was developed by London's Centre for Language in Primary Education (CLPE), the group that developed the Primary Language Record (PLR, see Examiner, Summer 1995, Summer 1992). It includes sections for the subjects mandated by the British national curriculum: the "core" subjects (language/English, math, and science) the "foundation" subjects (art, geography, history, physical education, and technology), and religious education. The PLeR language arts section is a condensed version of the PLR, and the PLeR has a similar format and structure to the PLR.


The PLeR contains a Guide and record-keeping forms. It is divided into two sections, the Main Record, which is the form for summarizing student learning, and Observations and Samples, which includes forms for recording information over the course of the year that can constitute the basis for filling in the Main Record.


The Observations and Samples section includes, for the core subjects, spaces for recording a diary of observations "of significant points in a child's development" for each student in each subject; and spaces for Samples/Detailed Observations "for looking in depth at particular examples." For the Foundation subjects, space on the forms is provided only for the summary Main Record, but teachers can develop observation and sample forms for those subjects.


The true richness of the PLeR, however, is found in the understanding that each subject involves both process and content. Thus, for science, when teachers do a detailed observation, they note: the context and background information about the activity, such as the kind of science, how the activity arose, work done alone or collaboratively, and links with other curriculum areas; the child's approach to the activity; the strategies and scientific processes the child used; the child's response to the activity; the knowledge and understanding shown by the child; what this sample shows about the child's development in science; and experiences/support needed to further development. This information enables the teacher to document and analyze how the student learns, her progress in learning scientific ways of thinking, and her developing content knowledge. Similar categories exist for other core subject areas.


The PLeR is structured for the British national curriculum. Adapting the PLeR to the U.S. will require making basic decisions about standards or curriculum that can be used to define the content to be assessed. The PLeR is now available from FairTest for $25.00. Use the order form on p. 16.