Assessments for Early Childhood Programs
Saint Petersburg College
William J. Wilson once said, “The person who scored well on an SAT will not necessarily be the best doctor or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, or perseverance”. Why do we test students? What is the purpose of assessments? Do these tests and assessments benefit the students? These are questions educators have been asking for years. It is impossible for one to determine a child’s academic abilities based solely on a test. Yet there still needs to be some form of assessments performed in order to evaluate the academic level each student has reached. But how much assessing is too much? How heavily do educators rely on the results of these assessments? The main issues, when it comes to assessing early childhood students, are the consequences of the assessment results and how they affect the child.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, there are two key principles that support the success of assessment. The first is that the purpose of an assessment should be a guide for assessment decisions. “The purpose for any assessment must be determined and clearly communicated to all stake- holders before the assessment is designed or implemented. Most important, assessment designed for programs should not be used to assess individual children. Because different purposes require different kinds of assessments, the purpose should drive assessment design and implementation decisions” (The National Academies of Sciences, 2008). The second principle is that any assessment performed should be completed in a “coherent system of health, educational, and family support services that promote optimal development for all children. Assessment should be an integral part of a coherent system of early childhood care and education that includes a range of services and resources” (The National Academies of Sciences, 2008). These two principles explain the main purpose of why assessing is important and how assessments should be conducted. After having an understanding of the purpose of assessments, why is it so important to begin evaluations at such a young age? What is the purpose of evaluating infants and toddlers? Author Sue Wortham explains evaluating toddlers and infants determine whether the child is developing normally or if they show any signs of delay and need assistance. All in all, the main purpose of assessment is to benefit the child (Wortham, p. 32).
The NAEYC believes that during a child’s early years, evaluating and assessing their development should be the primary focus. They want to study how young children grown and learn. All the “results of assessment are used to inform the planning and implementation of experiences, to communicate with the child’s family, and to evaluate and improve teachers’ and program’s effectiveness” (Wortham, p. 34). Teachers also use assessment results to in order to plan their curriculum accordingly. So exactly do assessments search for? Assessments look not only for what the child is already capable of doing independently but also what they can do with the help of a teacher or another student (Wortham, p. 35). So how are they assessed exactly?
There are many different assessments given to children across the U.S. everyday. These may be administered orally or as written works, such as questionnaires, surveys, or tests. These may include: standardized tests, observations, checklists, rating scales, rubrics, interviews, or portfolios. Each of these serve a different purpose in order to give different pieces of information needed to evaluate the child in question. Standardized tests, though many disagree with them, are meant to measure individual characteristics. Observations, on the other hand, are one of the most effective ways to measure students’ characteristics. When children are young, it can be hard at times to determine if...
References: Bers, T. H. & Mittler, M. L. (1994). New Directions for Community Colleges.
Brink, M. (2002). Involving Parents in Early Childhood Assessment: Perspectives
from an Early Intervention Instructor
The National Academies of Sciences (2008). Early Childhood Assessment:
Why, What, And How
Early Learning Standards Task Force and Kindergarten Assessment Work Group. (2005).
Early Childhood Assessment For Children From Birth To Age 8 (Grade 3)
Snow, C. E. & Van Hemel, S. B. (2008). Early Childhood Assessment:
Why, What, And How
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