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Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
Felicia DeHaney, National Black Child Development Institute
Miriam Calderon, National Council of La Raza
Michael Lopez, National Center for Latino Child and Family Research
Michaelene Ostrosky, Center on the Social Emotional Foundations of Early Learning
Mark Innocenti, Division for Early Childhood, Council for Exceptional Children
Noma Anderson, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Guest Comments (sign up upon arrival), Maximum 3 minutes per speaker.
Congress and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have launched multiple initiatives to invest in early childhood interventions to improve healthy development for at-risk children. These initiatives include programs such as Head Start and Early Head Start, which serve low-income children from birth to age 5, pregnant women, and their families. The programs strive to provide services responsive to the children and their families’ cultural, ethnic, and linguistic heritage.
Assessment of children’s progress is a key feature of Head Start classrooms, since ensuring that children are ready for school requires systematic, comprehensive, and ongoing evaluation. Numerous types of assessments are used in Head Start programs. For example, performance standards for Head Start require that programs assess the progress of each child toward an array of positive outcomes, on an ongoing basis; programs are required to screen children to identify special needs; and children are assessed on their achievement of specific cognitive and language outcomes through the standardized National Reporting System. The challenges of assessing young children are numerous, and in Head Start these challenges are compounded by the multiple cultural-and linguistic-minority origins of the children who participate in these programs.