In this text, a critical reflection is presented on assessment practices in early childhood education, which are discussed in the context of the creation by those practices of the students’ sense of agency which, according to J. Bruner, is treated as a category of school culture. The discussion is based on the results of the recent research conducted in Poland on students’ agency and an analysis of the data collected as part of the author’s own research.
The picture obtained by using the triangulation of methods and sources confirms that assessment in early childhood education strips children of the opportunity to build a sense of agency, even in terms of independent control of a task situation. The surveyed students, admittedly, are capable of a relatively independent reflection on the context of school assessment, but the world of their educational experience is limited to the incapacitating culture of the school grade. It is a culture that becomes one of the sources of children’s self-restraint in the perception of themselves as agents, perpetuating their external steerability and passivity. To change this situation, external regulations will not suffice, but only the organizing of the learning environment based on the relationship between the teacher and the student, which is free from the daily pressures of assessment and the worship of formal correctness.