• OBSERVING YOUNG CHILDREN: Why do I need to do it
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Katz, L. G. 1997. A Development Approach to Assessment of Young Children. ERIC Digest.

For many years young children have been assessed with ..

so why bother to assess phonological awareness in young children

Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1990.
Diagnosis of autism is rare before the age of two years and is frequently much later6. It requires comprehensive, specialist assessment, which means primary health care workers being alert to the features of the condition and making the appropriate referral. Attwood9 notes that autism can be diagnosed in children as young as 18 months but in practice this may be hard to achieve, partly because of the nature of the disorder and partly because of lack of knowledge. Unfortunately at present a considerable number of professionals involved with young children do not recognise autism10, although it is hoped that this situation will improve and cases will be referred to specialists at younger ages for early intervention6. Nurses and nursery nurses who work with babies and young children are in a prime position to recognise possible early signs that warrant investigation.

Autism: Recognising the signs in young children

The Portfolio and Its Use: Developmentally Appropriate Assessment of Young Children.
Using standardized tests to assess the abilities and knowledge of young children is viewed differently among educators, parents, politicians, and members of the community. Tests that are valid and reliable are extremely important tools when they are used to determine or to assure proper treatment for a child's special learning needs. However, research with young children (under 8 years old) indicates that using standardized tests for student grade placement or school retention can prove to be harmful to children's ultimate achievements.


Early detection of handicapping conditions

Meisels, S.J. 1993. Remaking the classroom Assessment with the work sampling system. Young Children. 48(5):34-40.
Assessments must be designed with attention given to the vast diversity of children. During young childhood (birth to age 8) children's rates of motor, physical, and linguistic development outpace growth rates at all other stages. Variance in growth coupled with environmental diversity influences the child's growing intellect in all domains. Schweinhart (1993) notes that assessment tools must be developmentally appropriate, reliable, valid, and user-friendly. These principles do not hold true when we review actual assessment systems.

The very skills best learned and assessed in context -- reading, math, and language -- are the skills assessed generally by school districts with standardized, group-administered, paper-pencil tests which are inappropriate for young children. Young children do not understand the purpose of formal testing. Moreover, tests that are given at one point in time may not give a total picture of a child's abilities. On a given test day, children may experience externally imposed anxiety or apathy contributing to the questioned reliability of such measures. There are several studies that have documented the associated stress young children experience during testing (Wodtke et al. 1989; Fleege et al.1992). Still, test designers profess that group-administered tests are more objective than the documented work of children with supportive intentional observations in the context of daily activities (Meisels 1993).

Autism: recognising the signs in young children

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) recommend "ethical, appropriate, valid, and reliable assessment" as a vital component of all preschool programs (NAEYC & NAECS/SDE, 2003, p. 2). They further suggest that assessment be tied to specific goals in these areas: (a) informing instructional decisions, (b) identifying concerns that may call for modifications to instruction for individual children, and (c) providing programs with information to help them improve their instruction.

By: National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities

Children have the right to have schools and teachers held accountable for providing high-quality instruction. Furthermore, documentation of children's progress is needed to assure needed intervention with special services at a time when, perhaps, these services will help them the most. And lastly, decision makers need accountability data. But the unintended negative outcomes for the teaching and learning of young children should be minimized. Group-administered and standardized performance-based tests should be reconsidered if they are used as the basic indicator of learning.

SVQ 2 Social Services (Children and Young People) at …

Educators cannot be held accountable for assuring that all children are above average. However, they are accountable for applying teaching strategies that are effective and appropriate for each child's learning needs. A child-centered, holistic approach to the accountability process is needed. This means early childhood educators must define what young children should be able to do and what they should know in order to create accountability systems that honor and safeguard high quality learning environments.