Preschool Children Tests (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Dec 8, 2010

Diagnostic Tests

After a child has been screened and there are indicators that further evaluation is needed, tests for diagnostic assessment can be administered. Measures of adaptive behaior assess possible developmental problems related to learning disabilities. Adaptive behavior instruments attempt to measure how well the young child has mastered everyday living tasks such as toileting and feeding. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale (Sparrow, Balla, & Cicchetti, 1984) assesses the everyday behaviors of the child that indicate level of development. The scale determines areas of weakness and strength in communication, daily living, socialization, and motor skills. Another instrument, the AAMR (American Association on Mental Retardation) Adaptive Behavior ScaleSchool (ABS-S:2) (Nihira & Lambert, 1993) assesses adaptive behavior in 16 domains for social competence and independence. Figure 3–3 describes categories of adaptive behaviors.

Some categories assessed in adaptive behaviors:

Independent Living Categories

Physical development

Language development

Independent functioning

Social Behavior Categories

Social engagement



Disturbing interpersonal behavior

Hyperactive behavior

Self-abusive behavior

Stereotyped behavior

Preschool intelligence tests and adaptive behavior scales are used to diagnose mental retardation. Although intelligence measures during the preschool years are generally unreliable because children’s IQs can change enormously between early childhood and adolescence, they are used with young children to measure learning potential.

The Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale (Thorndike et al., 1986), the original IQ test, was designed to assess general thinking or problem-solving ability. It is valuable in answering questions about developmental delay and retardation. Conversely, McCarthy’s Scales of Children’s Abilities (McCarthy, 1983) is useful in identifying mild retardation and learning disabilities. Another instrument, the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III) (Wechsler, 2002), is useful in identifying signs of uneven development.

Other instruments address all domains of development. The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC) (Kaufman & Kaufman, 1983), Battelle Developmental Inventory (Newborg, Stock, Wnek, Giudubaldi, & Svinicki, 1988), and Bracken Basic Concept ScaleRevised (Bracken, 1998), have comprehensive assessments of development.

Language Tests

The category of language tests for preschool children is very important because many children who are at risk for not learning successfully because they are poor or their first language is not English are frequently served prior to kindergarten. While some language tests for at-risk children are in English, others are available in both English and Spanish. The Preschool Language Scale (PLS-4) (Zimmerman, Steiner, & Pond (2002) and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (Dunn & Dunn, 1997) provide information on a child’s language ability, which can help determine whether a child will benefit from a language enrichment program.

With the expanding numbers of LEP (limited English proficiency) children who are living in many states, language assessment tests are growing in importance. Children who have limited English proficiency may be served in a bilingual program or ELL program. The Pre-LAS, Pre-IPT, and Woodcock-Munoz Language Survey (discussed shortly) are available in English and Spanish editions. There are also forms of these tests for school-age children.

The Pre-Language Assessment Survey (Pre-LAS) (CTB/McGraw-Hill, 2000) measures oral language proficiency. It is also used to make placement decisions, monitor progress over time, and identify learner needs. The IDEA Proficiency Tests (Pre-IPT) were designed to help districts identify LEP children. The Pre-IPT is administered to 3- to 5-year-olds and can later be used to release children from the LEP program. The Woodcock-Muñoz Language Survey (Woodcock & Muñoz-Sandoval, 1993) can be administered to children as young as age 2.

Achievement Tests

The National Reporting System (NRS) (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Head Start Bureau, 2003) was designed for children in the Head Start program. This test was introduced in response to a policy established by the George W. Bush administration requiring a measure similar to those used for the NCLB Act in public schools.

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