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Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
are not available may lead to underestimation of the need for services.
Among the tasks of the committee was the development of a research agenda to improve the quality and suitability of developmental assessment, across a wide array of purposes and for the benefit of all the various subgroups of children who will eventually be entering kindergarten. References to the need for research on assessment tools and the building of an assessment system are distributed throughout this document. Major topics of recommended research, with details in Chapter 11, are
research related to instrument development,
research related to assessment processes,
research on the use of assessment tools and processes with special populations, and
research related to accountability.
Well-planned and effective assessment can inform teaching and program improvement, and contribute to better outcomes for children. Current assessment practices do not universally reflect the available information about how to do assessment well. This report affirms that assessments can make crucial contributions to the improvement of children’s well-being, but only if they are well designed, implemented effectively, developed in the context of systematic planning, and are interpreted and used appropriately. Otherwise, assessment of children and programs can have negative consequences for both. The value of assessments therefore requires fundamental attention to their purpose and the design of the larger systems in which they are used.