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Putting Your Preschooler to the Test


Kids are being tested at an earlier age than ever before. Stay informed of nine preschool assessments.

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1. Psychological Tests Help Detect Developmental Delay

Preschool children ages 6 and under are sometimes given tests administered by school psychologists. These instruments identify characteristics found in children with developmental delay or disabilities.

2. Screening Instruments Are Short and Sweet

Screening instruments are first given to determine if further testing is needed. Screening tests are not indepth, and more assessments are needed to diagnose. They are given to see if there are any indicators of developmental difficulty.

3. Screening Tests Look at Social, Emotional and Cognitive Growth

Some screenings are administered by an examiner, and others are questionnaires filled out by parents and teachers. Screening tests often look at social-emotional and cognitive development. Screening instruments include: Ages and Stages Questionnaire, AGS Early Screening Profiles, First Step Screening Test for Evaluating Preschoolers (First Step), Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), Early Screening Project (ESP), and Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales (PKBS-2).

4. Diagnostic Tests Are Given If More Testing is Required

Diagnostic tests are given after a child has been screened and identified for more testing. Diagnostic tests for preschool children include adaptive behavior scales and intelligence tests, which are used to evaluate for developmental delay.

5. Adaptive Behavior Diagnostic Tests Assess Basic Skills

Adaptive behavior scales assess how children have mastered daily living tasks such as feeding, toileting, communication, and motor skills. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale and the Adaptive Behavior Scale School (ABS-S:2) are two adaptive behavior measures used with preschool children.

6. Intelligence Tests Measures Learning Potential

Intelligence tests for preschool children do not give a reliable IQ score, since IQ continues to develop in preschool and kindergarten. Instead, IQ tests are used with preschool children to measure learning potential. Intelligence tests for preschool children include: Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale, McCarthy’s Scales of Children’s Abilities, Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III), Battelle Developmental Inventory, and the Bracken Basic Concept Scale Revised.

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7. Language Tests Assess Language Development

When preschool children are assessed, they are often given language tests. The Preschool Language Scale (PLS-4) and Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test provide information about children's developing language abilities. The Pre-Language Assessment Survey (Pre-LAS) is often used to determine if a child requires special services.

8. Native Language-Specific Tests Can Be Used If Needed

Many children have difficulty learning if their first language is not English. When children take language tests, it is important that they take the test in the language they know best. The Pre-Language Assessment Survey (Pre-LAS), IDEA Proficiency Tests (Pre-IPT), and Woodcock-Munoz Language Survey can be given in Spanish or English.

9. Achievement Tests Help Determine Special Education Placement

School-age children are evaluated for achievement in school, which is important for special education placement decisions. Since pre-school children are not yet school-age, they can take an achievement test called The National Reporting System (NRS).