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Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How
broad-based knowledge needed to make such decisions wisely, they cannot be made by a single individual or by fiat in legislation. Policy and legislation should allow for the adoption of new instruments as they are developed and validated.
Assessment tools should be constructed and selected for use in accordance with principles of universal design, so they will be accessible to, valid, and appropriate for the greatest possible number of children. Children with disabilities may still need accommodations, but this need should be minimized.
Extreme caution needs to be exercised in reaching conclusions about the status and progress of, as well as the effectiveness of programs serving, young children with special needs, children from language-minority homes, and other children from groups not well represented in norming or validation samples, until more information about assessment use is available and better measures are developed.
GUIDELINES ON SYSTEMS
An effective early childhood assessment system must be part of a larger system with a strong infrastructure to support children’s care and education. The infrastructure is the foundation on which the assessment systems rest and is critical to its smooth and effective functioning. The infrastructure should encompass several components that together form the system:
Standards: A comprehensive, well-articulated set of standards for both program quality and children’s learning that are aligned to one another and that define the constructs of interest as well as child outcomes that demonstrate that the learning described in the standard has occurred.
Assessments: Multiple approaches to documenting child development and learning and reviewing program quality that are of high quality and connect to one another in well-defined ways, from which strategic selection can be made depending on specific purposes.