ERIC Number: ED479281
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2002
Child Assessment at the Preprimary Level: Expert Opinion and State Trends. Occasional Paper.
Horton, Carol; Bowman, Barbara T.
In Spring 2001, Erikson Institute conducted two surveys to provide practical information on the current state of expert opinion and public practice with regard to the assessment of prekindergarten children. The first survey questioned a select group of 25 national leaders in the early childhood field regarding the most important components of a child assessment system for 4-year-olds enrolled in Head Start or similar programs. The second study surveyed state-funded prekindergarten programs across the country regarding specific assessment practices mandated, recommended, or commonly used in their classroom. The national leader survey found strong agreement that the most important aspect of an assessment system is the link between curriculum and the assessment of child skills and knowledge. Weekly teacher meetings where assessment can be discussed and annual or semiannual program self-evaluations ranked next highest in importance. Parent involvement in the assessment process, annual developmental screening, and child portfolios were also considered to be particularly useful. Teacher checklists were seen as moderately important. Expert opinion was divided regarding the utility of anecdotal records, as well as the use of standardized achievement tests for program accountability. There was no support for using these tests to assess individual children. The state prekindergarten survey found that almost 70 percent of the 36 existing state-funded prekindergarten programs mandate, recommend, or commonly use developmentally appropriate informal assessment techniques. This represents a significant change from the mid-1990s, when only one state was developing guidelines or instruments based on these methods. Eight states mandate relatively elaborate assessment systems, which require the use of at least two informal assessment tools or require training in these techniques. Twelve states leave assessment decisions entirely to the local level. Seventy-five percent of the 24 states that do not leave assessment decisions to the local level report that they regularly use portfolios, checklists, and anecdotal records. Only 56 percent, however, report that curriculum and assessment are systematically linked. Even fewer (25 percent) report that parent involvement, teacher meetings, and program self-evaluation form a part of their assessment system. These findings suggest that while knowledge of developmentally appropriate assessment practices has significantly increased, there is still widespread lack of understanding that assessment must be understood as a comprehensive system, which is linked to the curriculum and supported by appropriate strategies and resources. (Author)
Descriptors: Developmentally Appropriate Practices, Evaluation Criteria, Evaluation Methods, Informal Assessment, Performance Based Assessment, Portfolios (Background Materials), Preschool Children, Preschool Education, Screening Tests, State Standards, Student Evaluation
Erikson Institute, 420 North Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611-5627. Tel: 312-755-2250; Fax: 312-755-0928; Web site: http://erikson.edu. For full text: http://erikson.edu/files/nonimages/horton-bowman.pdf.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Erikson Inst. for Advanced Study in Child Development, Chicago, IL.