Developing a Comprehensive System of Assessment
If measurement and evaluation of infants and young children is to follow the criteria for assessment in a new century, a system for assessment should be developed. The combination of measurement methods used will depend on the uses for the system, but, overall, many of the components to be described will be included in any plan for evaluation. There are many types of assessment systems. All systems use most of the options described below.
Components of an Assessment System
Standardized tests are designed to measure individual characteristics. The test may be administered to an individual or to a group. The purpose of standardized tests is to measure abilities, achievements, aptitudes, interests, attitudes, values, and personality characteristics. The results can be used to plan instruction, to study differences between individuals and groups, and for counseling and guidance.
Informal Assessment Strategies
Standardized tests are not the only tools available for evaluation and assessment. Various types of informal instruments and strategies to determine development and learning are available as well.
School districts often use informal tests or evaluation strategies developed by local teachers or staff members. In early childhood programs, an informal screening test may be administered to preschool children at registration to determine their instructional needs. Likewise, the speech teacher may use a simple screening instrument to evaluate the child’s language development or possible speech difficulties.
One of the most valuable ways to become aware of the individual characteristics of young children is through observation. Developmental indicators in early childhood are more likely to be noted from children’s behavior in natural circumstances than from a designed assessment or instrument. Adults who observe children as they play and work in individual or group activities are able to determine progress in all categories of development (Segal & Webber, 1996). The child who shows evidence of emerging prosocial skills by playing successfully in the playground is demonstrating significant growth in social development. Children who struggle to balance materials on both sides of a balance scale demonstrate visible signs of cognitive growth. Physical development can be evaluated by observing children using playground equipment. Because young children learn best through active involvement with their environment, evaluation of learning may be assessed most appropriately by observing the child during periods of activity. Observation records can be used to plan instruction, to report progress in various areas of development, and to track progress in mastery of preschool curriculum objectives.
Teachers have always used tests that they have devised to measure the level of learning after instruction. Early childhood teachers are more likely to use concrete tasks or oral questions for informal assessment with young children. Teachers frequently incorporate evaluation with instruction or learning experiences. Activities and games can be used both to teach and to evaluate what the child has learned. Evaluation can also be conducted through learning centers or as part of a teacher-directed lesson. Although pencil-and-paper tests are also a teacher-designed measure, they should not be used until children are comfortable with reading and writing.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- Child Development Theories
- GED Math Practice Test 1
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Social Cognitive Theory
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- The Homework Debate
- Problems With Standardized Testing