The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
domains because of the difficulty in finding high-quality instruments that would meet NRS requirements. Most of the items in the NRS battery were taken from existing assessment instruments that had been used in Head Start research or in local Head Start assessment programs.
A Spanish-language version of the assessment was developed as well. In the first year of implementation, it was administered after the English version to children whose home language was Spanish and who passed a Spanish language screener. Thus all children were assessed in English or Spanish only if they had passed the screener for that language.
The NRS aroused much concern on the part of some early childhood experts.4 More than 200 educators, researchers, and practitioners signed letters to Congress in early 2003 laying out their concerns about the NRS, along with some suggested ways to improve it. The letters ended with the following words: “If we can move ahead on adopting a matrix sampling design for the proposed Reporting System; if we can ensure that the System is composed of subtests that are reliable, valid, and fair; and if we can have adequate time to learn how to mount this historically largest-ever effort to test young children without creating chaos and confusion, then we will have created a system that has a chance of assisting young, at-risk children” (Meisels et al., 2003).
In May 2005, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the first year of implementation of the NRS (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2005). In it, the GAO identified several weaknesses in the system and its implementation, noting: “Currently, results from the first year of the NRS are of limited value for accountability purposes because the Head Start Bureau has not shown that the NRS meets professional standards for such uses, namely that (1) the NRS provides reli-
Among the other criticisms of the NRS was dissatisfaction with the omission of any measure of socioemotional development. A socioemotional component, based on teacher observations over a 1-month period, was added to the NRS as of the fall 2006 administration. For that administration, teachers were asked to assess only children who had been in the program for at least 4 weeks. It included items asking the teacher to report on approaches to learning, cooperative classroom behavior, relations with other children, and behavior problems (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 2006b).