Foundations of academic knowledge

Bonte, M.; Ivinson, G.; Merkley, R.; Bain, P.; Castles, A.; Cheung, P.; Clements, D.; Cook, C.; Cristia, A.; Day-Hess, C.; Dowker, A.; Draper, C.; Flewitt, R.; Germein, S.; Grigorenko, E.; Grotzer, T.; Hackett, A.; Kathotia, V.; Kievit, R.; McBride, C.; O'Brien, K.; Sarama, J.; Sommerville, M.; Strader, S. and Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden, C. (2022). Foundations of academic knowledge. In: Duraiappah, A.K.; Atteveldt, N.M.; Bugden, S. and Borst, G. eds. Reimagining education: The International Science and Evidence based Education Assessment. New Delhi, India: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development, pp. 282–355.



This chapter assesses the acquisition of academic knowledge and skills in domains including literacy, numeracy, sciences, arts and physical education. It examines how learning trajectories arise from complex interactions between individual brain development and sociocultural environments. Teaching literacy and numeracy to all students is a goal of most school systems. While there are some fundamental skills children should grasp to succeed in these domains, the best way to support each student’s learning varies depending on their individual development, language, culture and prior knowledge. Here we explore considerations for instruction and assessment in different academic domains. To accommodate the flourishing of all children, flexibility must be built into education systems, which need to acknowledge the diverse ways in which children can progress through learning trajectories and demonstrate their knowledge.

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