National Academies Press: OpenBook

Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How (2008)

Chapter: Part III: How to Assess

« Previous: 6 Measuring Quality in Early Childhood Environments
Suggested Citation:"Part III: How to Assess." National Research Council. 2008. Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12446.
Page 179
Suggested Citation:"Part III: How to Assess." National Research Council. 2008. Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12446.
Page 180

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Part III How to Assess I n this part, we turn to the question of how to select and admin- ister assessments, once purposes have been established and domains selected. Some of the issues dealt with here are the technical ones defined by psychometricians as key to test quality: the reliability and validity of inferences, discussed in Chapter 7. Others have to do with the usability and fairness of assessments, issues that arise when assessing any child but in particular chil- dren with disabilities and children from cultural and language minority homes; these are discussed in Chapter 8. In Chapter 9, and in particular with regard to direct assessments, we discuss the many ways in which the test as designed may differ from the test as implemented. Testing a young child requires juggling many competing demands: developing a trusting relationship with the child, presenting the test items in a relatively standardized way that is nonetheless natural, responding appropriately to both cor- rect and incorrect answers and to other child behaviors (signs of fear, anxiety, sadness, shyness). While it may not be possible to manage all these demands optimally, it is important that they are at least acknowledged when interpreting test results. 179

Next: 7 Judging the Quality and Utility of Assessments »
Early Childhood Assessment: Why, What, and How Get This Book

The assessment of young children's development and learning has recently taken on new importance. Private and government organizations are developing programs to enhance the school readiness of all young children, especially children from economically disadvantaged homes and communities and children with special needs.

Well-planned and effective assessment can inform teaching and program improvement, and contribute to better outcomes for children. This book 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.

Early Childhood Assessment addresses these issues by identifying the important outcomes for children from birth to age 5 and the quality and purposes of different techniques and instruments for developmental assessments.

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