Assessment in Early Childhood Settings

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Introduction

Assessment is gathering and analysing data gathered from different sources. Teachers and parents use various methods for testing young children, which can also be called screening (Haladyn, Haas, & Allison 1998). Assessment of young children starts even before birth; numerous screening is done while the baby is in the womb. Young children are assessed for motor, cognitive, social and physical skills. This helps the teacher to know the level of the child and if there are any developmental delays in infants and toddlers it can be addressed. Standardized testing is used to determine whether all the children are receiving the same type of instruction (Freeman & Brown 2008). In my country, we all have a single question paper, schools may differ but must follow the same curriculum. The earlier the better, so assessment must be done periodically for young children. In this essay, I’m going to learn and write an essay on assessment and standardized tests on young children.

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Standardized Tests

According to Freeman & Brown 2008, No child left behind act (NCLB), school readiness and academic achievement has been redefined to get a passing score on tests. Freeman & Brown 2008 also insists that when children get good scores in the tests they get promoted and if the score is low family circumstances (poverty, family issues) are blamed for. Next, I’m going to explore standardized tests in infants and toddlers.

Infants and Young children:

Numerous tests are conducted for young children to determine their physical and mental development. Some normed tests according to Wortham, Hardin (2015) are: Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale (NBAS), Third Edition and the Communication and Symbolic Behavior Scales Developmental Profile (CSBS DP) (Freeman & Brown 2008). It is hard to assess development of babies as they grow too quick and they have their own schedules. Visser, Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012 says, their attention span is less, and their developmental changes occur rapidly which makes the tests unreliable for a long term. Because of this restriction, the reliability of this is questionable. Inspite of all these, it is helpful to determine the level/status of infant and young children.

Neonatal Status: (Freeman & Brown 2008)

  • Apgar scale – it is done within 5mins of birth. Child is examined for respiration, body color, reflux irritability, muscle tone and heartbeat, graded for 10. 7 or above indicates the child is in good condition, below that indicates serious conditions.
  • Brazelton Neonatal Behavioral Assessment Scale – It is used to find mild neurological dysfunctions and temperament variations by measuring temperamental differences, nervous system functions. Fourth edition is used from birth to 1month, used to measure the infant’s signals and skills.
  • Ounce scale – it is used by parents, caregivers and Early Head Start teachers to measure developmental milestones.

Infant and toddler development:

It starts from 1month to 2years, used to measure the developmental milestone. According to Wortham, Hardin 2015, Gesell Developmental schedules detect developmental delays. The Devereux Early Childhood Assessment for Infants and Toddlers helps to assess social and emotional development.

Diagnostic Tests:

It is to determine physical or developmental disorder in children. The results in this must be interpreted properly to get an idea (Wortham, Hardin 2015).

Purpose of assessment

In early childhood, various assessments are designed to know the development of the children and if any problem is detected intervention can be given (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012). Instruments that are used to assess the children can identify developmental delays and sources of disabilities that affect children from learning. The teacher must choose the right tool for the child’s assessment depending on their age and level. One can’t fit every child. Mostly in early childhood, observation, portfolios and ratings (Freeman & Brown 2008). Teachers collect information about the child through formal and informal assessment. Three key ideas for assessment in early childhood is:

Screening Tests:

These will indicate to the teacher if there are any delays in development and if it needs any further investigation. In general, the child is assessed for a particular problem (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012). It is most common in the first five years of a child’s life. Educators or pediatricians can administer these tests. There are numerous screening methods, e.g. questionnaires which can be filled by parents. This screening covers numerous domains in development and needs collaboration between school and home. Also, it gives us the data about a child’s strength, weakness and needs (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012).

Observation:

It is used to learn about an individual child rather than just being in the group. Sometimes, teachers can understand better about the child and gather data about them which is not even possible in structured tests (Wortham, Hardin 2015). Children will behave in different ways in various situations and standard tests won’t be accurate for small children (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012). Nowadays, there are a lot of apps that help to record the observation.

Language Tests:

It is vital in school age children as many children nowadays are not having English as their first language (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012). I’m not a native English speaker and my son had language tests while enrolling for kindergarten. Language assessment is gaining its importance and there are a lot of tests to assess a child’s English proficiency (Wortham, Hardin 2015).

Assessment

My son’s friend didn’t speak till he was 4years. They didn’t go for intervention and thought it’s just a speech delay and boys will speak late. He communicates using some gestures and some words, he is not very verbal, and it is difficult to understand his articulation. Was he just having speech delay? No intervention needed as parents thought. Some children have difficulty in paying attention to instruction. I wondered how to make them attentive. I have picture reading books in class, and we read it every day. I have an opinion that it will help with language and literacy in children.

These are the questions the early childhood educators have in mind. Observing children and planning according to their needs are always a part of curriculum in early childhood classrooms (Wortham, Hardin 2015). Various meanings of assessment include observation, collecting data, monitoring, recording data (Visser., Ruiter, Meulen, Ruijssenaars & Timmerman 2012). Assessment is a widely used term to collect, evaluate, measure and document the readiness for learning. There are various methods to assess children. I work with toddlers and I used observation, checklist to assess children. Evaluating them for developmental delay is vital at this stage.

Conclusion

Assessment in young children helps teachers to track their milestones, learning strengths and weaknesses. This helps teachers to plan curriculum based on the evaluation. If the child is lagging or standards or not met, teachers can suggest them for professionals, special education or intervention.

References

  1. Freeman, N., & Brown, M. (2008). An authentic approach to assessing pre-kindergarten programs: Redefining readiness. Childhood Education, 84(5), 267-273.
  2. Haladyna, T., Haas, N., & Allison, J. (1998). Continuing tensions in standardized testing. Childhood Education, 74(5), 262-273.
  3. Sue C. Wortham, Belinda J. Hardin (2015). Assessment in Early Childhood Education, 7th Edition, Pearson Education, Inc.
  4. Visser, L., Ruiter, S. A. J., Van der Meulen, B., F., Ruijssenaars, W. A. J. J. M., & Timmerman, M. E. (2012). A review of standardized developmental assessment instruments for young children and their applicability for children with special needs. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 11(2), 102-127.
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Assessment in Early Childhood Settings. (2022, Sep 09). Retrieved October 7, 2022 , from
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