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Assessment Preschool

Assessment Preschool



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Published by norazak
Notes on preschool assessment for reference
Notes on preschool assessment for reference

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Published by: norazak on Jan 14, 2008
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Child assessment is a vital and growing component ofhigh-quality early childhood programs.Not only is it an important tool in understanding and supporting young children’s development,it is essential todocument and evaluate program effectiveness.For assessment to be widely used though,it must employ methods that are feasible,sustainable and reasonable with regards to demands on budgets,educatorsand children.Equally important,it must meet the challenging demands ofvalidity (accuracy and effectiveness) for  young children.It is the balance between efficiency and validity that demands the constant attentionofpolicymakers — and an approach grounded in a sound understanding ofappropriate methodology.
Issue 7 / July 2004
Contact Us:
120 Albany Street, Suite 500New Brunswick, NJ 08901 Tel (732) 932-4350Fax (732) 932-4360
Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach
by Ann S. Epstein, Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Kenneth B. Robin 
 What We Know:
Assessment is an ongoing process thatincludes collecting,synthesizing andinterpreting information about pupils,the classroom and their instruction.Testing is one form ofassessment that,appropriately applied,systematically meas-ures skills such as literacy and numeracy.While it does not provide a complete picture,testing is an important tool,for both itsefficiency and ability to measure prescribedbodies ofknowledge.Alternative or “authenticforms ofassess-ment can be culturally sensitive and posean alternative to testing,but they require alarger investment in establishing criteria for judging development and evaluator training.Child assessment has value that goes wellbeyond measuring progress in children– to evaluating programs,identifying staff development needs and planning futureinstruction.The younger the child,the more difficult it isto obtain valid assessments.Early develop-ment is rapid,episodic and highly influencedby experience.Performance on an assessmentis affected by children’s emotional states andthe conditions ofthe assessment.
Policy Recommendations:
Require that measures included in an assess-ment be selected by qualified professionalsto ensure that they are reliable,valid andappropriate for the children being assessed.Develop systems ofanalyses so that testscores are interpreted as part ofa broaderassessment that may include observations,portfolios,or ratings from teachers and/orparents.Base policy decisions on an evaluationofdata that reflects all aspects ofchildren’sdevelopment – cognitive,emotional,social,and physical.Involve teachers and parents in the assess-ment process so that children’s behaviorsand abilities can be understood in variouscontexts and cooperative relationshipsamong families and school staffcan befostered.Provide training for early childhood teachersand administrators to understand and inter-pret standardized tests and other measuresoflearning and development.Emphasizeprecautions specific to the assessment of  young children.
High/Scope EducationalResearch Foundation600 North River Street Ypsilanti, MI 48198-2898, USA Tel (734) 485-2000Fax (734)485-0704
This policy brief is a joint publication of the National Institute for Early Education Research and the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.
Policy MattersJuly 200
his briefaddresses the many questions about testingpreschool children.Our purpose is three-fold:(a) toprovide basic information about the terms and issuessurrounding assessment;(b) to add an empirical and prag-matic perspective to what can sometimes be an impassioneddebate;and (c) to support parents,policy makers and early childhood educators in using assessments to do what is bestfor young children and support the programs and policiesthat serve them.Child assessment is a vital and necessary component ofallhigh-quality early childhood programs.Assessment is impor-tant to understand and support young children’s development.It is also essential to document and evaluate how effectively programs are meeting young children’s educational needs,in the broadest sense ofthis term.For assessment to occur,it must be feasible.That is,it must meet reasonable criteriaregarding its efficiency,cost,and so on.Ifassessment placesan undue burden on programs or evaluators,it will not beundertaken at all and the lack ofdata will hurt all concerned.In addition to feasibility,however,assessment must also meetthe demands ofvalidity.The assessment must address thecriteria outlined below for informing us about what childrenin real programs are learning and doing every day.Efficiency and validity are not mutually exclusive but mustsometimes be balanced against one another.The challengeis to find the best balance under the conditions that exist andwhen necessary,to work toward improving those conditions.Practically speaking,this means we must continue to servechildren using research-based practices,fulfill mandatesto secure program resources,and improve assessmentprocedures to better realize our ideal.This paper setsforth the criteria to be considered in striving to make early childhood assessment adhere to these highest standards.
oncern with assessment in the early childhood field isnot new.Decades ofdebate are summarized in theNational Association for the Education ofYoungChildren (NAEYC) publication
Reaching Potentials: Appropriate Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children
This position statement has been expanded by NAEYC andthe National Association ofEarly Childhood Specialists inState Departments ofEducation (NAECS/SDE) in a newdocument titled
Early Childhood Curriculum,Assessment,and Program Evaluation: Building an Effective,AccountableSystem in Programs for Children Birth through Age 8.
What is new in this ongoing debate is the heightened attentionto testing young children as a means ofholding programsaccountable for their learning.Peter Airasian’s
 Assessment inthe Classroom
offers the following definitions:
is the process ofcollecting,synthesizing,andinterpreting information to aid classroom decision-making.It includes information gathered about pupils,instruction,and classroom climate.”
is a formal,systematic procedure for gathering a sample ofpupilsbehavior.The results ofa test are usedto make generalizations about how pupils would have performed on similar but untested behaviors.”
Testing is one form ofassessment.It usually involves a seriesofdirect requests to children to perform,within a set periodoftime,specific tasks designed and administered by adults,with predetermined correct answers.By contrast,alternativeforms ofassessment may be completed either by adults orchildren,are more open-ended,and often look at performanceover an extended period oftime.Examples include structuredobservations,portfolio analyses ofindividual and collaborativework,and teacher and parent ratings ofchildren’s behavior.The current Head Start testing initiative focuses primarily on literacy and to a lesser extent numeracy.The rationalefor this initiative,advanced in the No Child Left Behind Actand supported by the report ofthe National Reading Panel
,is that young children should acquire a prescribed body of knowledge and academic skills to be ready for school.Socialdomains ofschool readiness,while also touted as essential ina series ofNational Research Council reports
,are admittedly neither as widely mandated nor as “testable”as their academiccounterparts.Hence,whether justified or not,they do notfigure as prominently in the testing and accountability debate.This briefresponds to questions being asked ofearly childhood leaders about the use and misuse oftesting forpreschoolers 3 to 5 years old.This response is not merely a reactive gesture nor an attempt to advance and defend aspecific position.Rather,the briefis intended as a resourceto provide information about when and how preschoolassessment in general,and testing and other forms of assessment in particular,can be appropriately used forpurposes that include informing policy decisions aboutearly childhood programming.
Continued next page 
Policy MattersJuly 200
As a framework for providing this information,this policy briefaccepts two realities.First,testing is,will be,and alwayshas been,used to answer questions about the effectivenessofearly childhood programs.Since early childhood pro-grams attempt to increase children’s knowledge and skillsin specific content areas,evaluators have traditionally usedtesting,along with other assessment strategies,to determinewhether these educational objectives have been achieved.Second,program accountability is essential,and testing isone efficient means ofmeasuring it.Numerous researchstudies show that high-quality programs can enhance theacademic and lifetime achievement ofchildren at risk of school failure.This conclusion has resulted in an infusion of public and private dollars in early education.It is reasonableto ask whether this investment is achieving its goal.Testingcan play a role in answering this accountability question.With this reality as a background,we proceed to addresstwo questions.First,given the current pervasive use of testing and its probable expansion,when and under whatconditions can this type ofassessment be used appropriately with preschool-age children? That is,what characteristicsoftests and their administration will guarantee that we“do no harmto children and that we “do helpadultsacquire valid information? Second,given that even themost well-designed tests can provide only limited data,how can we maximize the use ofnon-test assessmentsso they add valuable information beyond that obtainedthrough standardized testing procedures?
General Issues in Assessment
Uses of Child Assessment
ssessment can provide four types ofinformation forand about children and their parents,teachers,andprograms.Child assessment can:
1.Identify children who may be in need of specialized services.
Screening children to determinewhether they would benefit from specific interventions isappropriate when parents,teachers or other professionalssuspect a problem.When screening indicates a problem,further assessments in several related domains are thenusually administered to the child.In addition,data fromparents and other adults involved with the child are consid-ered in determining a diagnosis and course oftreatment.
2.Plan instruction for individuals and groups of children.
Assessment data can be used by teachers tosupport the development ofindividual children,as well asto plan instructional activities for the class as a whole.Inaddition,information on developmental progress can andshould be shared with parents to help them understandwhat and how their children are learning in the classroomand how they can extend this learning at home.
3.Identify program improvement and staff development needs.
Child assessments can provideformative evaluation data that benefit program and staff development.Findings can point to areas ofthe curricu-lum that need further articulation or resources or areaswhere staffneed professional development.Ifchildrenin the classroom as a whole are not making progressin certain developmental domains,it is possible that thecurriculum needs revision or that teachers need someadditional training.In conducting formative evaluations,child data are best combined with program data thatmeasure overall quality,fidelity to curriculum implemen-tation standards and specific teaching practices.
4.Evaluate how well a program is meeting goals for children.
It is this fourth purpose,sometimes calledoutcome or summative evaluation,that is the primary focus ofthis paper.Note that it is the program,not the young child,who should be held accountable throughassessment.Although data may be collected on individualchildren,data should be aggregated to determine whetherthe program is achieving its desired outcomes.Theseoutcomes may be defined by the program itselfand/orby national,state,or district standards.How the outcomesare measured is determined by the inherent link betweencurriculum and assessment.Ideally,ifa curriculum hasclear learning objectives,those will drive the form andcontent ofthe measures.Conversely,thoughtful designofan appropriate assessment tool can encourage programdevelopers to consider what and how adults should beteaching young children.
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