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Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten A Planning Guide for School Divisions and their Partners November
Assessment and
Evaluation in
Prekindergarten
A Planning Guide for
School Divisions and
their Partners
November 2005

Children’s Services and Programs Branch Saskatchewan Learning 2220 College Ave. Regina, SK S4P 4V9

ISBN 1-894743-97-0

Cover Photo, Left to Right Jadelynn Cappo Dennis Orellana Bethany Fiala

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction

1

2. Key Considerations in Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation

Section Overview

5

Detailed Information and Resources

7

2.1 Definitions

7

2.2 The Importance of Informal Assessment and Evaluation

7

2.3 Recommended Readings 8

2.4 Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation Cautions 8

2.5 Cultural Awareness

9

2.6 Sample Program Standards and Performance Criteria

10

3. Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation in the School PLUS Context

Section Overview

13

Detailed Information and Resources

14

3.1 Validating Prekindergarten Program Efficacy

14

3.2 Professional Learning Communities

15

3.3 SMART Goals 16

3.4 Conclusion

17

4. A Framework for Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation

Section Overview

19

Detailed Information and Resources

21

4.1 The Prekindergarten Environment

23

4.2 Adult-Child Interactions

27

4.3 Child Development

31

Physical Health and Well-Being

35

Social Knowledge and Competence, Emotional Health / Maturity

38

Language and Cognitive Development, and Communication Skills and General Knowledge

40

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

43

4.5 Partnerships 51

4.4 Family Engagement

4.6 Long-Term Effects

57

5. Appendices

Appendix A:

National Institute for Early Education Research Preschool Assessment:

A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach

65

Appendix B:

Prekindergarten Rubric: Regina Public Schools

81

Appendix C: The Prekindergarten Assessment Tool: Saskatoon Public Schools

105

Appendix D: Sample Reporting and Student Observation Forms

145

Appendix E:

Sample Family Input Forms

181

6. References

187

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Saskatchewan Learning gratefully acknowledges the contributions of many organizations and individuals in the development of this document. Prekindergarten personnel, school division central office staff, preschool teachers, Speech and Language Pathologists, Early Childhood Intervention Program workers, KidsFirst staff, and other professionals provided perspectives and suggestions at regional workshops during the fall and winter of 2004-2005. As well, the Department appreciates the efforts of those individuals who reviewed the draft document and provided detailed feedback.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

1

INTRODUCTION

 

it’s

worth doing

A traditional saying is, “If something is worth doing

well.” The modern corollary to this maxim is, “If something is worth

doing

it’s

worth assessing and evaluating.” In Saskatchewan, many

talented and committed teachers, support staff, agency partners, parents, and administrators are working hard to provide young children with opportunities to develop and to learn. Their work is very important and many believe that the investments made in early education are the best investments that a society can make. As Prekindergartens, preschools, and other early learning and child care programs are potentially so valuable to children, families, and communities, it is vitally important that the right things are done well.

Well-conceived and implemented approaches to assessment and evaluation can help to ensure that Prekindergarten programs meet their goals. The purpose of this document is to assist school divisions and their partners to design and implement child- and program-appropriate assessment and evaluation practices.

Two interests converged to cause the development of Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten: A Planning Guide for School Divisions and their Partners. First, Prekindergarten staff, at meetings with Saskatchewan Learning personnel, indicated that they wanted some guidance with respect to the assessment and evaluation of child development. They indicated that Better Beginnings, Better Futures (2004) provided useful direction with respect to the principles that should guide their programs and outlined the nature of their instructional activities, but many teachers wanted more specific advice regarding what learning outcomes they should look for. Prekindergarten teachers, as reflective professionals, also wondered whether their practices and programs were as effective as they could be. Were there ways in which assessment and evaluation of their teaching and programs could lead to professional growth and better services for the children?

The second interest that contributed to the development of these guidelines was the need of school, school division, and provincial administrators for reliable data about the efficacy of Saskatchewan Learning sponsored Prekindergarten programs. Local communities and political leaders at the division and provincial level want to ensure that resources be used in the best possible ways to benefit individual children, their families, and society. Conventional wisdom and research conducted elsewhere tell us that high

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

quality preschool programs are very effective in improving the life success of children who would otherwise be at risk. So, what about Saskatchewan’s school- based Prekindergarten programs? Are they of high quality? How do we know? What do we need to do to find out?

In response to these interests of teachers, administrators, and funding agencies, Saskatchewan Learning organized workshops for Prekindergarten staff throughout the province in the fall of 2004 and early winter of 2005. Data were gathered on current assessment and evaluation practices, and participants indicated the topics for which they wanted more information. Experts inside and outside Saskatchewan were consulted, and professional literature on the assessment and evaluation of early education was reviewed. This information, along with the input of early childhood practitioners in the field, forms the foundation of this document.

This guide provides current, research-based information about three levels of Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation:

1. Classroom level: Information about the optimal learning environment, teacher practices, and curriculum content is presented. Included are sources of information about the continua of development of young students for it is very important that teachers know what they should look for as indicators of development of the whole child. For each dimension of child development, references are provided regarding some suggested assessment and evaluation practices and instruments.

2. School program level: This guide offers references and resources that teachers, parents, agency partners, and administrators can use to assess and evaluate their Prekindergarten programs.

3. School division or provincial levels: Ideas are presented that can lead to the aggregation of authentic, valid, and reliable data about the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of the Prekindergarten initiative.

Most of the participants in the regional workshops that preceded the writing of this document were Prekindergarten teachers in designated Community Schools. While their settings are the primary focus of this guide, teachers and administrators of other early childhood programs will find the recommended assessment and evaluation principles, practices, and tools to be pertinent.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Very few teachers and administrators will have the time to read this document cover- to-cover. It is written, therefore, to address practitioners’ specific assessment and evaluation interests, with each section usable on a stand-alone basis. Reference to the Table of Contents and the Section Overview that proceeds each section will help to direct readers to information of particular interest. Questions are also included in each section. These may be used to aid in planning and to stimulate discussion among the partners.

No document with content ranging from the micro to the macro levels of the assessment and evaluation of a complex program can presume to provide the last word on the subject. This is certainly true of this guide. Please regard the document as a starting point that provides some food for thought and some stimuli for reflection and further exploration. It does not have all of the answers, but if it stimulates professional dialogue and improved learning opportunities for children, it will have served a very valuable purpose.

Donald Duncan, Ph.D. Western Insights Consulting and Facilitation Contracted Writer

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

2

KEY CONSIDERATIONS IN PREKINDERGARTEN ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION

 

SECTION SECTION OVERVIEW: OVERVIEW:

This section provides important background information that school divisions

and their partners should consider in the overall development of assessment and

evaluation strategies and practices.

The following considerations are described

more fully under Detailed Information and Resources:

2.1 Definitions

Assessment and evaluation are defined as well as terms associated with formal evaluation.

2.2 The Importance of Informal Assessment and Evaluation

Informal assessment and evaluation is emphasized in the Prekindergarten program. Rubrics developed in the Regina and Saskatoon Public School Divisions to support informal assessment and evaluation practices are found in Appendices B and C.

2.3 Recommended Readings

Reference is made to literature that discusses the current state of early childhood assessment and evaluation.

2.4 Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation Cautions

Teachers are advised to keep several key points in mind when assessing and evaluating the performance and development of young children. For example, the sensitivity of the children to the tester, the test environment, and their own emotional states; the need to make multiple observations to ensure reliability; time constraints involved in the planning and implementation of an excellent educational program; and the necessity to set priorities.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

2.5 Cultural Awareness

• The curriculum must be culturally sensitive and affirming of the students’ backgrounds.

• The active involvement of parents and family members is encouraged.

2.6 Sample Program Standards and Performance Criteria

• The Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria developed by the National Association for Early Years Education (NAEYC) are introduced. These criteria define the attributes that research has associated with high quality programs and positive child development outcomes.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

DETAILED INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

2.1 Definitions

What is assessment and evaluation? Although various authors suggest their own definitions, those offered by Gullo (2005) are useful in the context of early childhood programming.

Gullo cites the following definition of assessment in early childhood developed by Mindes:

Assessment is a process for gathering information to make decisions about young children. The process is appropriate when it is systematic, multidisciplinary, and based on the everyday tasks of childhood. The best assessment system is comprehensive in nature, that is, the assessment yields information about all the developmental areas: motoric, temperament, linguistic, cognitive, and social/emotional. (p. 7).

Gullo defines evaluation as “the process of making judgements about the merit, value, or worth of educational programs, projects, materials, or techniques” (p. 7).

programs, projects, materials, or techniques” (p. 7). What is your understanding of the difference between

What is your understanding of the difference between assessment and evaluation?

Why are both important?

Two other terms Prekindergarten personnel should be aware of are:

Norm referenced assessment and evaluation, which compares the performance of subject children to the results obtained by large samples of comparable children using standardized test instruments under controlled conditions.

Criterion referenced assessment and evaluation, which compares the performance of subject children to performance standards or criteria that have been predefined (typically by a curriculum, continuum of development, or teacher).

2.2 The Importance of Informal Assessment and Evaluation

In teachers’ daily practice, informal, alternative, or authentic assessment and evaluation are often more important than the use of formal, normed instruments. These practices generally involve direct observation of children by their teachers (or educational assistants) and the recording of anecdotal notes or use of checklists. Two goals cited by Gullo (2005) for this mode of assessment are:

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

1. to incorporate actual classroom work into assessment; and

Teachers typically observe children directly during activities and engage them in conversation to reveal their learning and understanding.

in conversation to reveal their learning and understanding. What are your current Prekindergarten assessment and

What are your current Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation practices?

Do you use both informal and formal assessment and evaluation practices?

What do you use and for what purpose?

2. to enhance both children’s and teachers’ participation in the assessment and evaluation process (p.8).

Saskatchewan Learning’s Better Beginnings, Better Futures (2004) emphasizes the Prekindergarten program’s focus on individual children and the importance of their active learning through play. Teachers typically observe children directly and engage them in conversation to reveal their learning and understanding. These assessment and evaluation practices most often involve the drafting of observation notes, anecdotal records, checklists, rubrics, and portfolios. Examples of rubrics that support these practices are found in Appendix B, Regina School Division’s Prekindergarten Rubric and in Appendix C, Saskatoon School Division’s The Prekindergarten Assessment Tool.

2.3 Recommended Readings

It is important that all Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation practices in Saskatchewan respect accepted early childhood standards and criteria. The National Institute for Early Education Research recently published Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach (2004), an article that provides a clear, concise, and comprehensive overview of important assessment and evaluation considerations. Please refer to the full text of this article in Appendix A.

Another article on assessment and evaluation of young children that may be of interest to Prekindergarten staff is Bordignon and Lam (2004). This article discusses the strengths and weaknesses of various instruments commonly used in the Prekindergarten setting and also comments on considerations that scholars and practitioners should bear in mind in testing, assessment, and evaluation settings.

Those who want to read a more detailed account of the considerations in the assessment and evaluation of Prekindergarten children and programs may wish to read Understanding Assessment and Evaluation in Early Childhood Education (Gullo, 2005). (School administrators should note that this work addresses the topics through Grade 3.)

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

2.4 Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation Cautions

The literature urges caution in the assessment and evaluation of the performance and development of young children, especially concerning testing. It is replete with warnings about how sensitive the children are to the tester, the test environment, and the children’s own emotional states. All of these factors tend to make the assessment results unstable. As a result, in order for assessment and evaluation to be reliable, it is important that teachers make multiple observations over an extended period of time in order to judge the scope and depth of children’s development. The assessment environments should be familiar and stimulating to the children, and the children should know and be comfortable with the assessors.

Time is a scarce resource for all teachers and administrators, including those associated with Prekindergarten programs. Personnel attempt to strike the optimal balance among the many activities that are essential to the planning and implementation of an excellent educational program

With time constraints in mind, personnel are encouraged to reflect on their program as a whole, and, while doing the necessary assessment and evaluation activities in all program dimensions, identify one priority area for particular attention. Section 4 refers to a range of assessment and evaluation activities and tools. They cannot and should not all be used in a single program. Program planners should feel free to be selective, reflecting on local situations and needs. The Prekindergarten Self-Assessment Tool referred to in Table 4.7, may provide a useful starting point as you set priorities for refining your assessment and evaluation practices.

2.5 Cultural Awareness

The Prekindergarten program must be culturally sensitive and affirming of the childrens’ backgrounds. Sutherby and Sauve (2003) noted that, to ensure that learning and experiences are meaningful, relevant, and respectful for the participating children and their families, teachers should bear in mind three kinds of information as they design their programs:

• child development and learning;

• strengths, interests and needs of each child; and

• knowledge of the social and cultural contexts in which children live”(p. 4).

For assessment and evaluation to be reliable, it is important that teachers make multiple observations over an extended period of time in order to judge the scope and depth of children’s development.

to judge the scope and depth of children’s development. Caution is advised when assessing the development

Caution is advised when assessing the development of young children. What do you believe are some of the most important considerations?

How do you ensure these are taken into account in the development of a Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation plan?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Teachers should consider the values of parents and families when assessing and evaluating the Prekindergarten children’s learning.

Better Beginnings, Better Futures (2004) encourages the active involvement of parents and family members in the education and development of their children (p.12). This implies not only influencing the content of the Prekindergarten instruction, but also speaks to the need for teachers to consider the values of parents and families in assessing and evaluating the children’s learning.

Teachers are encouraged to get to know the children’s families well and to establish relationships based on trust and shared purpose. This can include engaging parents as active partners in the assessment and evaluation of their children’s growth and development. For more details in this regard, please refer to Section 4.4, and Appendix E.

2.6 Sample Program Standards and Performance Criteria

As Prekindergarten teachers and partners consider quality of their program, they may wish to refer to the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria developed in the United States by the National Association for the Education

of Young Children (NAEYC). These may be found at

http://www.naeyc.org/accreditation/. Table 2.1 provides a list of contents to indicate the comprehensiveness of the NAEYC’s criteria.

Whether assessing and evaluating an existing program, or designing a new program, personnel could refer to all or part of the criteria in order to prompt dialogue or to assess and evaluate the status of any given dimension of the Prekindergarten program. The list of criteria

is not, of itself, an assessment and evaluation tool. If used as more

than a guide for discussion, it would be advisable to connect a rating scale and comments section to the criteria. The criteria have been developed in the United States so it is important for Saskatchewan personnel to consider how the criteria applies to the local context.

In addition, program personnel may wish to refer to the program

standards established by the respective states, south of the border.

A convenient website that lists the links to state standards is

http://www.ihdi.uky.edu/sparc/State_Standards_Links.doc .

Table 2.1: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria– List of Contents http://www.ihdi.uky.edu/sparc/State_Standards_Links.doc

Relationships

Building Positive Relationships Among Teachers and Families Building Positive Relationships Between Teachers and Children Building Positive Relationships Among Peers Creating a Predictable, Consistent, and Harmonious Classroom Addressing Challenging Behaviours Promoting Self-Regulation

Curriculum

Essential Characteristics Social-Emotional Development Language Development Early Literacy Development Early Mathematics Technology, Scientific Inquiry, and Knowledge Understanding Ourselves, Our Communities, and Our World Creative Expression and Appreciation for the Arts Physical Development and Skills

Teaching

Designing Enriched Learning Environments Creating Caring Communities for Learning Using Time, Grouping, and Routines to Achieve Learning Goals Making Learning Meaningful for All Children Using Instruction to Deepen Children’s Understanding and Build Their Skills and Knowledge

Assessment

Creating an Assessment Plan Using Appropriate Assessment Practices Identifying Children’s Interests and Needs Describing Children’s Developmental Progress Adapting Curriculum, Individualizing Teaching, and Informing Program Development Communicating With Families and Involving Families in the Assessment Process

Health

Adult and Child Practices for Health Promotion and Protection Nutrition Practices for Maintenance of a Healthful Environment

Teachers

Preparation, Knowledge and Skills of the Teaching Staff Teachers’ Dispositions and Professional Commitment

Families

Knowing and Understanding the Program’s Families Sharing Information Between Staff and Families Nurturing Families as Advocates for Their Children

Community

Linking With the Community Accessing Community Resources Acting as a Citizen in the Neighbourhood and the Early Childhood Community

Partnerships

Physical

Indoor and Outdoor Equipment, Materials, and Furnishings Outdoor Environmental Design Building/Physical Design Environmental Health

Environment

Leadership and

Leadership Management Policy and Procedures Fiscal Accountability Policy and Procedures Health, Nutrition, and Safety Policy and Procedures Personnel Policy Program Evaluation, Accountability, and Continuous Improvement

Management

Section 2

11

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

3

PREKINDERGARTEN ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION IN THE SCHOOL PLUS CONTEXT

SECTIONSECTION OVERVIEW:OVERVIEW:

This section describes how Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation fit within the operation of Saskatchewan’s formal education system School PLUS direction. The following sub-topics are included in the Detailed Information and Resources:

3.1 Validating Prekindergarten Efficacy

• This first topic describes how assessment and evaluation activities generate information that can be used by the school and community to further learning opportunities for children, families, and staff.

3.2 Professional Learning Communities

• The attributes and practices of professional learning communities are summarized. This model has been adopted by many school divisions to promote a positive collaborative culture to support child development and learning.

3.3 SMART Goals

• Guidance is provided on how a SMART goals approach can contribute to the use of assessment and evaluation information to enhance the Prekindergarten program.

3.4 Conclusion

• This section concludes by emphasizing the importance of the role Prekindergarten and other early learning and child care personnel play in implementing School PLUS philosophy and practices.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

DETAILED INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

3.1 Validating Prekindergarten Efficacy

(Efficacy: the achievement of preferred outcomes with an acceptable level of inputs.)

Assessment and evaluation activities are not ends in themselves. They are processes that gather meaningful information about children’s learning and allow teachers, parents and others to exercise value judgements about that learning. What really counts is what is done with the judgements and conclusions reached regarding children’s learning.

and conclusions reached regarding children’s learning. What do you believe are the most important connections

What do you believe are the most important connections between Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation and the School PLUS strategy?

Ideally, Prekindergarten teachers and other early learning and child care personnel are able to discuss assessment and evaluation data with school administrators, Kindergarten to Grade 3 colleagues, community partners, parents, and children. In collaboration, Prekindergarten teachers can:

• set appropriate learning goals for children;

• identify strategies that will address those goals; and

• secure the resources needed to accomplish the intended outcomes.

Within a School PLUS context, schools and school divisions are committed to engaging the school staff, children and youth, families, partner agencies, and the broader school community in dialogue and action to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for children and youth. The success of this commitment depends on effective processes for dialogue and access by all participants to accurate, appropriate, and meaningful data about programs and children’s learning.

Even though decades of credible research has validated the value and efficacy of Prekindergarten, Head Start, and early education programs elsewhere, Prekindergarten classes linked to schools are relatively new in Saskatchewan. Prekindergarten teachers and educational assistants can see the remarkable growth and development among children that is stimulated by their classroom settings, but many teachers at other levels, school and division administrators, and members of the broader community may be unfamiliar with Prekindergarten programs and their value. It is highly desirable that all personnel in the school and community understand and value Prekindergarten programs and contribute to their success. It is important for Prekindergarten staff, supervisors, and administrators to identify what program and learning data would be helpful to other audiences. By using some of the assessment and evaluation instruments and practices that are described in this document, Prekindergarten staff and other leaders can generate

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

useful information that will engage all interested parties to reflect upon and contribute to the continuous improvement of learning opportunities for children.

3.2 Professional Learning Communities

Many school divisions have adopted a professional learning community model to support a positive collaborative culture to enhance child development and learning.

What really counts is what is done with the judgements and conclusions reached regarding children’s learning.

As noted by Sackney and Mitchell (2000), successful professional learning communities tend to have three attributes:

1. Members of the community have a sense of intra-personal confidence and efficacy (i.e., they feel good about themselves as professionals and what they can contribute in the school community context).

2. Members of the community have inter-personal respect and communication skills (i.e., the school community has a culture in which important learning-related information can be shared and individuals feel comfortable in participating actively in a professional dialogue).

3. The school community provides appropriate supports to facilitate dialogue and interaction (i.e., scheduled time, space, and resources).

Professional learning communities also share the following attributes and practices:

• They engage in processes to define their shared beliefs, values, mission, vision and goals.

• They form teams with flexible membership to set and accomplish goals (school personnel, students, families, agency partners and/or community members).

• Team members are committed to enhancing student learning or child development.

• They gather meaningful data regarding what students have learned, connect that information to what learning should come next and set achievable goals.

• They collaborate to develop and implement strategies to address the identified learning needs.

• They assess and evaluate the effectiveness of their strategies and make revisions as required.

For more information on professional learning communities and how to develop this type of collaborative learning culture within a school, please refer to the references for works by Danielson (2002); DuFour (1999); Holcomb (1999); Reeves (2004).

(2002); DuFour (1999); Holcomb (1999); Reeves (2004). Do you think the implementation of professional learning

Do you think the implementation of professional learning communities will benefit Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation practices?

If so, in what ways?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

3.3 SMART Goals

Professional learning communities often state their goals in what Cozemius and O’Neil (2001) refer to as SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Significant/Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented and Time-bound. Examples of goals expressed in a SMART format would be:

“By October 31 st , all children will wash their hands before snacks, without adult direction.”

“By the end of December, at least one caregiver from each family will have participated in a classroom activity.”

“By March 31 st , 75% of three-year-old children in my class will be able to complete the last lines of five nursery rhymes.”

“By December 1 st , Mary, Bill, and Jasmine will be able to identify the letters in their own names.”

As seen in the above examples, a SMART goal sets a definite target date for a learning outcome to be mastered or a performance indicator to be achieved. It also identifies the group of learners or participants and provides details with respect to the nature of the outcome. Such clarity helps the teacher (or supervising administrator and other personnel) understand what the foci of the program are and allows instructional personnel to develop specific teaching or action strategies that will address the learning goals.

In keeping with the assessment and evaluation theme of this document, it is very important to note that the use of a SMART goals approach begins and ends with an understanding of the learners’ knowledge and skills.

• At the outset of the process, the teacher gathers information about what the children already know. With her/his professional knowledge of the continua of learning outcomes that are stated or implied in the curriculum, the teacher then determines what the next developmentally appropriate learning outcome should be.

• He or she sets a realistic goal for the children and identifies appropriate practices and resources.

• Observation and informal assessment will guide the teacher as she/he modifies the environment to optimize the children’s learning.

• When the teacher believes that most or all of the children have mastered the intended learning outcome, she/he administers a valid assessment to confirm that the goal has been realized. If it

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

has, she/he then proceeds to the next developmentally appropriate goal and makes provision for timely reviews and reinforcement activities in order to promote retention of the previously learned skills. If it has not, she/he would plan enhanced activities or, if necessary, revise the goal.

As can be seen in this process, the initial goal setting stems from the assessment of the children’s learning and the concluding step is the evaluation of the mastery of a new skill.

3.4

Conclusion

The professional learning community model and the use of SMART goals are consistent with the School PLUS philosophy and can contribute significantly to any school’s success. If the school in which the Prekindergarten is situated/linked has adopted a professional learning community and/or SMART Goals approach, it is important that the Prekindergarten staff and other early learning and child care personnel play active roles and participate fully in this dimension of the school’s culture.

In addition to reading and implementing models from the literature cited above, workshops for staff development can be arranged on these topics. For example, the Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit (PSDU) offers workshops on Cognitive Coaching and other topics that enhance professional communications. It also has developed a series of workshops entitled “Coming Together… Building the Learning Community through Staff Development”. Further information on SPDU can be found at http://www.stf.sk.ca/prof_growth/workshops_seminars/workshops_ seminars.htm .

For School PLUS to realize its potential, it is essential that all programs, Prekindergarten and other early learning and child care initiatives through the highest grade level, be developmental and coordinated. As Prekindergarten is a relatively new program, it is appropriate for the Prekindergarten personnel and administrative leaders to ensure that all of her/his colleagues are aware of the significance of the program and how it provides a solid base for all subsequent learning that the children will accomplish. This information-sharing process is much more persuasive when supported by program specific data from valid and reliable assessment and evaluation practices that relate to well-defined and significant learning goals.

that relate to well-defined and significant learning goals. As you consider the full scope of your

As you consider the full scope of your Prekindergarten program, whom could you invite to participate in some or all of its assessment and evaluation?

What are their respective interests and areas of expertise?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4

A FRAMEWORK FOR PREKINDERGARTEN ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION

SECTION SECTION OVERVIEW: OVERVIEW:

This section emphasizes that all dimensions of Prekindergarten programs should be assessed and evaluated on a systematic basis in order to ensure that program aims, goals, and objectives are being accomplished.

Six domains are proposed as a comprehensive framework that can potentially address all aspects of the Prekindergarten program. Each domain is then covered more fully in the Detailed Information and Resources.

4.1 The Prekindergarten Environment

• The focus of this domain is on assessing and evaluating the environment in which the Prekindergarten program takes place.

• Two comprehensive instruments that have been widely used are described. These are the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R) and the Preschool Quality Assessment (PQA).

4.2 Adult-Child Interactions

• This domain describes how critical the interaction among the children and the adults in the program, as well as teacher practices and strategies to engage children, are to child development.

• To assess and evaluate this interaction, several instruments are noted that provide data regarding verbal and non-verbal adult-child interactions; the character of communication between Prekindergarten staff and children; and the relationship of aspects of the teacher’s communication to specific learning outcomes of preschool children.

4.3 Child Development

• This domain organizes the areas of child development into three categories as follows:

• Physical Health and Well-Being (including gross and fine motor development)

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

• Social Knowledge and Competence; Emotional Health/Maturity

• Language and Cognitive Development; Communication Skills and General Knowledge

• A number of tools are described, including Regina Public School Division’s Prekindergarten Rubric, Saskatoon Public School Division’s Prekindergarten Assessment Tool, and the Early Development Instrument (EDI).

4.4 Family Engagement

• The importance of assessing and evaluating the Prekindergarten program’s family engagement practices is discussed in this domain. Several sources are mentioned that provide direction for this task.

• Appendix D contains sample forms for reporting to parents.

• Appendix E provides examples of feedback forms that may be used to gain input from parents parents.

4.5 Partnerships

• This domain describes the importance of collaboration with partner agencies and the community, and suggests various methods of assessing the effectiveness of collaborative practices.

4.6 Long-Term Effects

• This domain describes the benefits of assessment and evaluation of the long- term effects of the Prekindergarten program and how it can lead to program improvement and enhanced child outcomes.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

DETAILED INFORMATION AND RESOURCES

In the pages that follow, each of the six domains is defined. In addition, examples are provided of recommended assessment and evaluation practices and/or instruments.

As noted in the acknowledgements at the beginning of this document, much of the information regarding these elements came from Prekindergarten staff and associated partners in the five regional Prekindergarten workshops that were held in the winter of 2004-2005. The range of information they provided inspires confidence in the quality and scope of assessment and evaluation practices that can be attained in all of Saskatchewan’s Prekindergartens.

can be attained in all of Saskatchewan’s Prekindergartens. The Framework for Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation

The Framework for Prekindergarten Assessment and Evaluation identifies six domains that should be assessed to determine the effectiveness of the program. What, if any, are your current practices in each domain?

• Prekindergarten

Environment

• Adult-child

Interactions

• Child

Development

• Family

Engagement

• Partnerships

• Long-Term

Effects

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.1 The Prekindergarten Environment

This domain focuses on the physical environment in which the Prekindergarten program takes place. It considers the appropriateness of a large number of elements including:

• size, maintenance and cleanliness of the classroom;

• condition and adequacy of furniture and equipment;

• quantity and quality of toys, books, and instructional materials;

• suitability and maintenance of playground equipment;

• appropriateness of the general program schedule;

• space, furnishings, and equipment to accommodate activities for families;

• suitability of washroom facilities;

• adequacy of food preparation areas; and

• quality of transportation services.

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R)

Many Prekindergarten teachers and administrators, as well as child care providers and preschool teachers in Saskatchewan, are familiar with the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale- Revised (1998) (ECERS-R). This instrument was originally published in 1980 and has been used effectively in thousands of early childhood settings across North America. It is intended to be used in one room or with one group of children at a time. The age group for which ECERS-R is designed is 2.5 through 5 years. The instrument is known to have high predictive validity (i.e., high ratings on the ECERS-R scales can be reliably connected with superior learning outcomes by children in the program or classroom being rated), (Peisner-Feinberg & Burchinal,1997). With its history of use, ECERS-R is worthy of consideration for use in all Saskatchewan preschool settings.

High ratings on the ECERS-R scales reliably can be connected with superior learning outcomes by children in the program or classroom being rated.

ECERS-R is designed to be used by observers who have successfully completed a short (typically two day) training and practice session. A video training package is available from Teachers College Press and there are qualified inservice trainers available in Saskatchewan.

It is possible for individual teachers who have been trained in the use of ECERS-R to benefit from self-evaluation. It is preferable though, for the instrument to be used by a trained observer who is not directly engaged with the classroom or program being evaluated. An outside observer is often in a position to see things and to ask questions about dimensions of a program that may be overlooked or taken for granted by those immersed in the Prekindergarten classroom.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

ECERS-R comprises 43 rating scales that are grouped (see table 4.1). At least 18 of the scales in ECERS-R address elements defined as being part of the Prekindergarten Environment domain. The instrument does not have scales that relate directly to transportation of children to and from the program, physical space to accommodate parents, nor outside playgrounds. Because each of these elements can be important to the operation of a Prekindergarten, classroom and/or supervisory personnel may want to develop rubrics that are similar in structure to the ECERS-R model for these elements.

Each of the instrument’s 43 subscales is presented with a rubric that includes categories of attributes that are labelled “1-inadequate”, “3- minimal”, “5-good”, and “7-excellent”. The elements of levels 3, 5, and 7 of the rubrics reflect attributes that early childhood research has associated with successful programs. The trained observer is expected to spend three to four hours to observe, ask questions of staff, and complete the ratings. A rating sheet for use by the observer may be photocopied from the manual. Detailed instructions for scoring are provided in the manual and are addressed in training sessions.

Ratings from the subscales of the ECERS-R provide teachers with descriptors of specific elements of their programs. Where ratings are “excellent”, staff have cause for celebration and incentive to keep up the great work. Where ratings are less positive, the staff can focus on particular program or classroom features and can set specific improvement goals. Depending on the nature of the goals, there may be an implication for staff development, or, in the case of a deficiency in the facility or equipment, the data from the instrument could be used in resource allocation dialogues with program administrators.

ECERS-R has great potential to evaluate the quality of the Prekindergarten environment. ECERS-R also has rubrics that can provide insight regarding other important domains of this framework (especially regarding Adult-Child Interaction).

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Table 4.1: Overview of the Subscales and Items of the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS-R)

Space and Furnishings

1. Indoor space

4.

Room arrangement for play

2. Furniture for routine care, play

5.

Space for privacy

and learning

6.

Child-related display

3. Furnishings for relaxation

7.

Space for gross motor play

and comfort

8.

Gross motor equipment

Personal Care Routines

9. Greeting/departing

10. Meals/snacks

11. Nap/rest

Language-Reasoning

15. Books and pictures

16. Encouraging children to communicate

Activities

19. Fine motor

20. Art

21. Music/movement

22. Blocks

23. Sand/water

Interaction

29. Supervision of gross motor activities

30. General supervision of children

31. Discipline

Program Structure

34. Schedule

35. Free play

Parents and Staff

38. Provisions for parents

39. Provisions for personal needs of staff

40. Provisions for professional needs of staff

12. Toileting/diapering 13. Health practices 14. Safety practices

17. Using language to develop reasoning skills 18. Informal use of language

24. Dramatic play 25. Nature/science 26. Math/number 27. Use of TV, video, and/or computers 28. Promoting acceptance of diversity

32. Staff-child interactions 33. Interactions among children

36. Group time 37. Provisions for children with disabilities

41. Staff interaction and cooperation 42. Supervision and evaluation of staff 43. Opportunities for professional growth

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Preschool Program Quality Assessment

Although there may be merit in encouraging all Prekindergarten programs in Saskatchewan to adopt ECERS-R as a commonly used instrument, another similar product that is also available. In 2003, the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation published a revised edition of PQA, Preschool Program Quality Assessment . The research conducted by the publisher has established the predictive validity of this instrument and it appears that it would provide reliable and valid information regarding many aspects of Prekindergarten programs. The PQA invites the rating of 63 elements intrinsic to preschool programs. The items are categorized as “classroom” items or “agency” items and each is presented with a rubric that describes attributes that are graded at levels one through five.

• The classroom items include Learning Environment (9 items), Daily Routine (12 items), Adult-Child Interaction (13 items), and Curriculum Planning and Assessment (5 items).

• The agency items include, Parent Involvement and Family Services (10 items), Staff Qualifications and Staff Development (7 items), and Program Management (7 items).

Additional information about the PQA and related materials may be found at http://www.highscope.org .

Like ECERS-R, the PQA can be a valuable source of assessment and evaluation information about the Prekindergarten Environment domain as well as other domains cited in this guide. Teachers and program administrators may wish to reflect on their local needs and consider how the use of one or parts of both instruments may be of value.

Saskatchewan Learning Documents

As teachers, administrators, and partners assess the quality of their Prekindergarten learning environments, it is important to refer to the tables on pp. 25-27 of Better Beginnings, Better Futures: Effective Practices Policy and Guidelines for Prekindergarten in Saskatchewan Community Schools (2004) . These pages identify learning centres, necessary equipment, alternative themes and enhancements, and sample concepts and objectives that are associated with preferred Prekindergarten classrooms.

As well, Saskatchewan Learning’s Kindergarten curriculum, Children First: A Curriculum Guide for Kindergarten (1994), provides information on evaluating an early childhood program (pp. 166-179). (Please note that the Kindergarten curriculum is about to be revised. When the revision is published, references to the Kindergarten curriculum will be updated on the website version this document.)

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.2 Adult-Child Interactions

Although the environmental elements addressed in the previous domain have a profound impact on learning opportunities, classroom personnel know that the nature of interaction among children and the adults in the program (teacher, educational assistant, and others) determines whether the children bloom or wither as learners.

Learning is essentially a socially mediated experience, and research (Caine & Caine, 1997) tells us that when children feel at once secure and stimulated, their ability to learn and retain knowledge and skills is optimized. As such, it is very important that classroom personnel monitor, assess, and evaluate the nature of their interactions with children.

The most effective program personnel have keen sensitivity regarding the effects of their communication on their audiences. They watch for facial expressions and body language, and they listen carefully to the audiences’ questions or comments in order to gain insight into how their messages are being interpreted. In light of this non-verbal or verbal feedback, the best communicators adjust their approaches or style of communication in order to promote understanding. They engage constantly in this informal assessment and evaluation process automatically and very informally as a normal part of communication.

The nature of interaction among children and the adults in the program (teacher, educational assistant and others) determines whether the children bloom or wither as learners.

This informal assessment of one’s communication is a cornerstone of successful interaction with young children. Sometimes, though, individuals are not the best observers of their own behaviour. As well, perceptions of self or of the formal role can distort objectivity. From time to time, all professionals benefit from observation by trained, objective, and supportive observers. The value of such observation is greatly enhanced if the subject of the observation and the observer agree, in advance, on the kind of communication that is to be observed and the criteria that will be applied in evaluating its effectiveness.

Early Childhood Environmental Rating Scale – Revised (ECERS- R) and Preschool Program Quality Assessment (PQA)

ECERS-R includes nine subscales that directly or indirectly address dimensions of adult-child interaction (please refer to Table 4.1). The ECERS-R observer can provide classroom personnel with credible and useful feedback regarding verbal and nonverbal adult-child interactions as part of the overall ECERS-R assessment. Similarly, if the PQA were to be used, the 13 items in the Adult-Child Interaction section would provide excellent insight and data for reflection.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS)

Some practitioners in Saskatchewan have made excellent use of a specialized instrument that provides an analysis of the nature of adult-child interaction. The Caregiver Interaction Scale (CIS)(Arnett, 1989) can be used by an observer to identify the program personnel’s attributes when communicating with children. Following a recommended observation period of two hours, the observer rates 26 elements on a four-point scale. The scores are then analyzed in order to rate the subject’s interaction with children on four characteristics:

interaction with children on four characteristics: In which areas do you wish to enhance assessment and

In which areas do you wish to enhance assessment and evaluation practices?

Are there instruments or tools you would like to use?

Do these

instruments

require special

training?

How can you arrange for training?

a. Positive Interaction (warm, enthusiastic, developmentally appropriate);

b. Punitiveness (hostility, harshness, and use of threat);

c. Detachment (uninvolvement and disinterest); and

d. Permissiveness.

The teacher or educational assistant’s ratings can serve as excellent data upon which she/he can reflect and, if necessary, prompt behavioural changes. Re-administration of the scale some weeks or months later can provide good follow-up data regarding the success of efforts to change. As well, in order to put the ratings in context, the scores may be compared to the average scores of other groups of early childhood personnel.

Observers should be trained in the use of the Caregiver Interaction Scale in order to confirm their inter-rater reliability. As the instrument has no publisher, no formal training programs for CIS observers have been found. However, this training is sometimes provided as an extension to training for ECERS-R observers (Jaeger

& Funk, 2001).

A copy of the instrument and instructions for scoring can be found at

http://www.mschildcare.org/resources/caregiverinteractionscale.html . Information regarding the reliability and validity of the instrument can be found at

http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/opre/ehs/perf_measures/reports/ resources_measuring/res_meas_impa.html .

Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS)

The National Center for Early Development and Learning (NCEDL)

in the United States, recently conducted a very large-scale study of

childcare programs and Pre-Kindergarten classrooms (for four-year old children). The Multi-State Study of Pre-Kindergarten has completed the data collection phase and has issued interesting initial reports that speak to the remarkable variability in practices, quality,

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

and outcomes among the centres and classrooms studied. Saskatchewan early childhood personnel and administrators are encouraged to read the initial report which may be found at http://www.fpg.unc.edu/~NCEDL/PDFs/ED9_1.pdf .

This study relied on two instruments to gather most of the Prekindergarten classroom data. One instrument, ECERS-R, is described above. The other instrument, the Classroom Assessment Scoring System (CLASS), is of particular interest in examining Adult-Child Interactions.

CLASS gathers information on 14 important constructs, many targeting interactions between teachers and children:

1. Positive emotional climate

8. Instructional learning formats 9. Roteness 10. Quality of feedback 11. Literacy 12. Mathematics 13. Science 14. Social studies

2. Negative emotional climate

3. Teacher sensitivity

4. Over-control

5. Behaviour management

6. Productivity

7. Concept development

A detailed description of the CLASS instrument may be found in the article Standardized Classroom Observations from Pre-K to Third Grade: A Mechanism for Improving Quality Classroom Experiences During the P-3 Years (Pianta, 2003). The article is available at http://www.ffcd.org/news/publications.html .

In considering the possible use of CLASS, note that its reliable use demands training for observers. As well, the completion of the instrument is based on half day, or longer, classroom observations. Consideration would also be given to the extent to which the instrument reflects the goals and objectives of the Saskatchewan Prekindergarten program.

The instrument makes very definite connections between adult-child interactions and the quality of school program outcomes in terms of readiness to learn in four academic areas. Emphasizing such links may spark an interesting and useful dialogue among those professionals who emphasize a purely play-based program and those who place more emphasis on connecting the developmental activities of Prekindergarten with preparation for success in subsequent grades.

Teachers make it standard practice to observe children’s stages of development in order to determine subsequent strategies and practices.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.3 Child Development

Prekindergarten personnel in Saskatchewan are most familiar with assessment and evaluation practices and instruments in this domain. Teachers make it standard practice to observe children’s stages of development in order to determine subsequent strategies and practices. They also commonly assess and evaluate the degree to which children master the intended content and skills. As well, all teachers use assessment and evaluation information to report children’s progress to parents and to develop appropriate records.

Saskatchewan Learning Documents

Child development is multi-faceted and developmental frameworks are presented in a variety of forms. A general reference for teachers in Saskatchewan is the set of Developmental Benchmarks cited on pp. 52-53 of Better Beginnings, Better Futures: Effective Practices Policy and Guidelines for Prekindergarten in Saskatchewan Schools

(2004).

As well, Children First: A Curriculum Guide for Kindergarten (1994), provides Prekindergarten teachers with a useful contextual reference that identifies the developmental expectations to be addressed for five-year-old children. At regional workshops leading up to the development of this guide, participants cautioned against attempts to apply the Kindergarten curriculum rigorously in Prekindergarten environments. They acknowledged, though, that part of the purpose of Prekindergarten is to prepare the children to succeed in the Kindergarten setting. As such, Prekindergarten staff need to be aware of the curriculum for five-year olds and the developmental continua that extend into the next level. With this in mind, Prekindergarten teachers may want to review pp. 20-25 in the Kindergarten document, the Foundational Objectives Developmental Chart, which identifies age-appropriate development in the areas of socio-emotional, physical and intellectual development. As well, p. 62 of the Kindergarten curriculum guide sets out the Prephonemic Stage observable understandings and activities that are appropriate at the preschool level.

Prekindergarten teachers do not have to invent new forms for recording assessment information. Appendix D of this guide reproduces the rating scales and observation and reporting forms that were published initially in the Kindergarten curriculum guide (pp. 183-199 and 144-146). Some of the forms may be used in the Prekindergarten context as is, while teachers may want to adapt the content of others to suit their particular environments.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Regina Public Schools’ Prekindergarten Rubric

Prekindergarten staff of the Regina Public School Division, in consultation with personnel from the Saskatchewan Instructional Development and Research Unit (SIDRU) at the University of Regina, have engaged for the past few years in a longitudinal study of their program. As part of this study, the personnel developed a Prekindergarten Rubric that addresses communication, literacy, cognitive, and social/emotional development among Prekindergarten children. The Prekindergarten Rubric is presented as Appendix B.

Saskatoon Public Schools’ Prekindergarten Assessment Tool

Staff of the former Saskatoon Community Schools Prekindergarten Board (now part of the Saskatoon Public School Division) developed the Prekindergarten Assessment Tool to help teachers assess children’s receptive language, expressive language, literacy, numeracy, large motor, fine motor, social and emotional, self- identity, safety, self-help/independence, and academic skills. The Prekindergarten Assessment Tool is reproduced in Appendix C along with its companion document, Teacher Tools and Activities To Encourage the Development of Skills.

Early Development Instrument

A number of school divisions in Saskatchewan have used the Early

Development Instrument (EDI), which was developed by the Offord

Centre for Child Studies (formerly the Centre for Studies of Children

at Risk) at McMaster University. The EDI is a questionnaire that is

completed by Kindergarten or Prekindergarten teachers with reference to individual children, aged four or five. The questionnaire

is quite detailed with approximately 100 fields of information

requested. The instrument is to be completed by teachers after they come to know their individual students well, typically in February or

March. Completion of each child’s questionnaire takes approximately 20 minutes after a short training period of an hour or two. Although the information is collected on individual children, the completed questionnaires are sent to the Offord Centre where they are scored. Data are aggregated for each site and reports are issued regarding the school, neighbourhood or community level.

The EDI measures children’s readiness to learn in school in five important domains:

1. Physical Health and Well-being

• holding a pencil

• running on the playground

• motor coordination

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

• adequate energy levels for classroom activities

• independence in looking after own needs

• daily living skills

2. Social Knowledge and Competence

• curiosity about the world

• eagerness to try new experiences

• knowledge of standards of acceptable behaviour in a public place

• ability to control own behaviour

• appropriate respect for adult authority

• cooperation with others

• following rules

• ability to play and work with other children

3. Emotional Health/Maturity

• ability to reflect before acting

• a balance between too fearful and too impulsive

• ability to deal with feelings at the age-appropriate level

• empathic response to other people’s feelings

4. Language and Cognitive Development

• reading awareness

• age-appropriate reading and writing skills

• age-appropriate numeracy skills

• board games

• ability to understand similarities and differences

• ability to recite back specific pieces of information from memory

5. Communication Skills and General Knowledge

• skills to communicate needs and wants in socially appropriate ways

• symbolic use of language

• story telling

• age-appropriate knowledge about the life and world around

Two Additional Indicators:

about the life and world around Two Additional Indicators: Do you refer to continua in each

Do you refer to continua in each of the child development domains in order to determine whether each of the children is progressing normally?

How do you use this data to enhance programming and professional practices to improve child development outcomes?

• Special Skills: literacy, numeracy, dance, music, and others

• Special Problems: health problems, learning problems, behaviour problems

The EDI is not intended for use as a diagnostic instrument to assess the learning needs of individual children. It does, however, provide useful comparative information about the characteristics of children.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

The EDI has been used with over 293,000 children in Canada in the past seven years (8075 in Saskatchewan). With such a strong and recent Canadian reference base, teachers, school and division administrators, community leaders, and politicians can make valid and reliable inferences about the readiness to learn of local children compared to national norms.

The EDI does not measure the effectiveness of the Kindergarten program that the children currently attend. Nor does it provide direct evidence of the effectiveness of any Prekindergarten program that the children may have attended as three- and/or four-year olds. It does present information about the relative readiness of groups of children to benefit from their current school situations.

So why should those involved with Prekindergarten programs be interested in having their former students assessed by the EDI? There are at least three good reasons.

1. First, if the data show that there are a significant number of children in a particular neighbourhood or community who are below the Canadian norm in specific domains, communities can use the information to establish or augment early childhood programs and services.

2. Second, if the data include information on children from similar socio-economic backgrounds, some of whom attended Prekindergarten and some of whom did not, it may be possible to infer the effects that may be attributed to the Prekindergarten program. (Such information tends to affirm the merits of continuing or augmenting the Prekindergarten programs.)

3. Third, if EDI data are available over time, it may be possible for Prekindergarten personnel to observe patterns of developmental strengths and weaknesses among the children. Such information could inform instructional and programming decisions that would adjust the emphases of the Prekindergarten program.

In summary, the use of the EDI requires a significant investment of time and analytical resources. The benefits yielded by the resulting data can be of great value to all those interested in improving the success of children in school.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Developmental Dimensions

As noted above, the EDI provides an overview of young children’s Physical Health and Well-being, Social Knowledge and Competence, Emotional Health/Maturity, Language and Cognitive Development, and Communication Skills and General Knowledge. In assessing and evaluating the development of individual children, however, Prekindergarten teachers need to refer to more detailed continua of development in order to:

• identify the stages of growth that they have attained;

• understand the degree to which the growth has been mastered; and

• be aware of the next developmentally appropriate elements to address.

The sections that follow provide some suggestions regarding assessment and evaluation references, tools, and practices for each of the developmental dimensions. Although the references are not exhaustive, they will provide starting points from which teachers can refine their practices to suit the needs of their respective settings.

Physical Health and Well-Being

Although Prekindergarten staff ensure that the safety and sanitation of the Prekindergarten environment are appropriate (see references to the Prekindergarten Environment in Section 4.1), and, in many cases provide a nutritious snack or lunch to children, the primary responsibility for supporting the physical health and well-being of the children rests with their families. Secondary support for the families in this area will typically be led by public health nurses or other specialized personnel from the Regional Health Authority.

The role of the Prekindergarten staff, in respect of the general physical health and well-being of the children is most often one of observation and communication with parents and/or referral to other agencies. Although this may be viewed as a supporting role, it is very important that the Prekindergarten staff be keen observers of the general state of health of each child and the extent to which the child’s health enables him/her to participate in and benefit from the Prekindergarten program.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Communication with Families

Many of the health and well-being issues that come to a Prekindergarten teacher’s attention will stem from recorded observations of the children’s behaviour. If a child is often very tired and tends to fall asleep during the program, the teacher may wish to discuss the child’s sleep patterns with the family. If the child is typically irritable, tired, and inattentive, questions can be raised about the child’s breakfast habits and general nutrition.

Communication with the family based on mutual trust and respect are, of course, essential to the success of such discussions. Conversations about a child’s health and well-being can be very sensitive and parents may be defensive. The focus of such conversations need to focus on the child’s behaviour. Subsequent dialogue may address possible causes. In order to keep a positive

tone in such situations, it may be helpful to have anecdotal records

of observations to support the teacher’s concerns. Such notes bring

a measure of objectivity to the observations and may elicit the

understanding and support of the parent. It may also be helpful and trust building to invite the parent to attend the class to observe the child and develop a record of the behaviours that are of concern.

Battlefords Early Childhood Intervention Program Developmental Chart

Prekindergarten teachers who are interested in the “normal” patterns of physical development of young children should contact the public health nurse associated with their programs. There are various charts and tables available for reference. One such chart has been prepared by the Battlefords Early Childhood Intervention Program. It provides a few normal references for various age groups from zero through five years of age with reference to gross motor, fine motor, visual, feeding, social (emotional) and speaking and hearing. It is available for sale in colourful 8 1/2 x 11 or wall poster sizes. The agency may be contacted by telephone at 306-446-4545.

Saskatchewan Learning Documents

Prekindergarten teachers can also refer to the Developmental Benchmarks (which include references to gross and fine motor skills) that are cited in Appendix A of Better Beginnings, Better Futures (pp. 52-53). Although only a few elements are stated, the pages provide a continuum of development for children from age two through six years. Children First: A Curriculum Guide for Kindergarten (pp. 22-23) describes the physical development expected of children at that level.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Websites

There are many websites that provide developmental overviews of gross and fine motor skills for the age range of interest to Prekindergarten staff. One such site is http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/abc/physical.html .

From this site, one may connect to similar overviews of social and emotional development, thinking skills, and communication skills. Links are also provided that cite resources and activities for parents and early care providers.

Using a Continuum to Develop an Assessment Tool

Although the above references provide information regarding the normal continua of gross and fine motor development, they are not, in their current forms, assessment or evaluation instruments. Teachers who wish to use them for assessment and evaluation purposes will have to connect the elements of the continua to checklists with descriptors such as “Beginning to Develop”, “Developing”, and “Fully Developed”. Alternatively, a more time consuming but more detailed assessment and evaluation format could be developed with descriptive rubrics related to the various stages of development of the several skills.

Ages and Stages Questionnaires

Public Health, Early Childhood Intervention Program, and other agencies have a wealth of information on the health and well-being of children. A number of these agencies use the Ages & Stages Questionnaires (ASQ) which may be completed by parents at intervals of several months from four through 60 months of the child’s age. Prekindergarten staff can consult with partner agencies regarding the use of the instruments as assessment tools. The tools address several dimensions of child development including communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, personal- social, and general.

fine motor, problem solving, personal- social, and general. Who should be involved in planning assessment and

Who should be involved in planning assessment and evaluation in the Prekindergarten program?

To whom should you report assessment and evaluation outcomes?

In addition to the questionnaires, the publisher also promotes training sessions and other related support materials including a parent activity book that provides age-appropriate activities that support child development in the areas assessed. The current website that describes these materials is http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/bricker-asq .

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children

The same publisher (above) also sells the Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children (AEPS-Rev. Ed.). This is a revised edition of materials that have been available since 1984. The materials link assessment, intervention and evaluation activities for children from birth to six years who have disabilities or are at risk for developmental delays. The administration guide, tests, and related forms are supported by curricula for the two age ranges (birth-three years and three-six years). The materials address fine motor, gross motor, cognitive, adaptive, social-communication, and social dimensions of learning. The website that describes these materials is http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/bricker-aeps/

Note: For program criteria that would support the physical development of children, please refer to the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria cited in Section 2.4.

Effective teachers typically monitor the social and emotional states of the children through informal observation and respond to children’s needs in a prompt, engaged and supportive manner.

Social Knowledge and Competence; Emotional Health/Maturity

Social Knowledge and Competence and Emotional Health/Maturity are two domains identified in the Early Development Instrument (EDI). These two fields are closely related and their assessment and evaluation are addressed together in this section.

Growth and development of social and emotional skills among young children are prerequisites to all other learning that takes place in the Prekindergarten and other settings. Effective teachers typically monitor the social and emotional growth of the children through informal observation and respond to children’s needs in a prompt, engaged, and supportive manner. The skills required in this context are referred to in Section 4.2 on Adult-Child Interactions. Such informal observation, assessment, and interactions are essential but not sufficient, however, to ensure the systematic development of the children’s social and emotional capacities. With this in mind, assessment methods should determine where the children are along the developmental continua. Learning opportunities would then be structures to reinforce those skills that are developing and introduce appropriate new learning challenges.

Developmental Continuum

In order to assess and evaluate children’s progress in these areas, it is important to understand the normal continua of development so that

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

teachers can identify how far particular children have advanced and what developmentally appropriate social and emotional behaviour skills should be addressed next. As noted above regarding gross and fine motor skills, there are various short lists of age-appropriate development available to which teachers may refer. Many of the same lists also refer to emotional and social skills. Teachers may refer to:

• Appendix A in Better Beginnings, Better Futures (pp. 52-53);

• the developmental chart produced by the Battlefords Early Childhood Intervention Program (reference information is cited in Physical Health and Well-being); or

• the charts found at http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/abc .

As well, please refer to Children First: A Curriculum Guide for Kindergarten (pp. 20-21) for the descriptors of socio-emotional development expected at the Kindergarten level in Saskatchewan. For program criteria that support the social and emotional development of children, please refer to the Social-Emotional Development section of the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria cited in Section 2.4.

Missouri Pre-K Social and Emotional Development Standards and Approaches to Learning

Those teachers who are looking for a much more detailed continuum of social and emotional developmental stages and skills can refer to the Missouri Pre-K Social and Emotional Development Standards and Approaches to Learning (November, 2002). These standards also have an accompanying teacher’s guide and parent handbook. This publication is particularly useful as its guiding principles are consistent with Saskatchewan’s Prekindergarten guidelines; the content is supported by current credible research on early childhood development; the material is comprehensive; and the format is teacher and parent friendly.

The Missouri documents are organized by:

• Content Components such as knowledge of self and knowledge of others;

• Process Standards for each component that describe competencies such as developing self-control and building relationships of mutual trust and respect with others;

• Indicators that are observable milestones in the development of competencies, such as initiating interactions with others and participating successfully as a member of a group; and

• Examples that describe specific behaviours that children may

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

exhibit in their development, such as expressing preferences, listening while others speak, and sharing ideas in a group situation.

This valuable resource may be accessed online at http://www.dese.state.mo.us/divimprove/fedprog/earlychild/ PreK_Social_Standards.html

All of the above-referenced materials contain continua of normal age-appropriate behaviours. As was the case with the material cited in the preceding section on Physical Health and Well-Being, teachers will need to augment this format with checklists with “Beginning to Develop”, “Developing” and “Highly Developed” categories. (Teachers may, of course, substitute other terms that they prefer.) Alternatively, but much more time-consuming to develop, teachers could choose to develop descriptive rubrics for the pertinent items.

Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ)

The ASQ, mentioned earlier in Physical Health and Well-Being, has recently been supplemented by a separate product, the ASQ-SE, which focuses specifically on the social and emotional development of young children. The current website that describes ASQ materials is http://www.brookespublishing.com/store/books/bricker-asq .

Regina Public School Division’s Prekindergarten Rubric

Please refer to the 10 items in the Social/Emotional Development section of the Rubric, which appears as Appendix B. (Please note that the “Colour Code Check Mark” columns of the Rubric refer to different colours that teachers would use at different times of the year as they complete the Rubric for individual children.)

Saskatoon Public School Division’s Prekindergarten Assessment Tool

Please refer to the Social and Emotional Skills and related skill areas as shown in Appendix C.

Language and Cognitive Development; Communications Skills and General Knowledge

Of the six domains of Prekindergarten operations that this guide addresses, the child development domain is the most developed in Saskatchewan Prekindergartens and in the professional literature. Similarly, of the dimensions of child development, none is as well developed as the fields of language and cognitive development and communications skills and general knowledge. As these aspects of learning and development are so closely related in young children, and as instruments developed by different researchers group related

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

skills in various combinations, these dimensions of learning that are identified in the EDI model are addressed together in this section.

Saskatchewan Learning Documents

As noted in previous sections, a good starting point for Prekindergarten teachers who are looking for developmental benchmarks for age-appropriate skills for children is Appendix A on pp. 52-53 of Better Beginnings, Better Futures. The intellectual skills cited in this table provide useful insights. As well, please refer to the list of intellectual skills cited in Children First: A Curriculum Guide for Kindergarten (pp. 24-25) in order to see where the continuum of skills leads at the next school level.

Early Literacy: A Resource for Teachers (2000) provides a developmental continuum for language and literacy development from Prekindergarten to Grade 3. The document also provides assessment and observation forms for language development along with strategies and activities.

Websites

Teachers who are looking for very accessible references to thinking skills or communication skills may wish to refer to the lists of milestones cited on the following website http://www.pbs.org/wholechild/abc . It is not only easily read but also provides supplementary references for caregivers and parents.

For program criteria that support language, other curricular areas, and cognitive growth among young children, please refer to the curriculum section of the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria cited in Section 2.6.

Authoritative information about the continua of language development for young children may be found at http://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/child_hear_talk.htm, the website of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. In addition to a developmental continuum, the website provides advice regarding the caution that should be exercised in assessing individual children’s language development. A similar set of language development information may be found at http://www.speechdelay.com/testrosemilestones2.htm .

These language development continua are not, of themselves, assessment nor evaluation instruments. In order to be used as such, the Prekindergarten teacher would incorporate the continua’s elements into a checklist format with appropriate descriptor

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

categories such as “Beginning to Develop”, “Developing” and “Highly Developed”.

The University of Waterloo is currently engaged in a comprehensive study that will be of interest to Canadian educators of young children. The goal of their project is to develop a questionnaire that captures important milestones in children’s early language development from 18 to 47 months of age. Saskatchewan Prekindergarten personnel may follow the progress of this project at http://www.childstudies.uwaterloo.ca/ .

Regina Public Schools’ Prekindergarten Rubric

This document includes nine elements that address communication development; several elements that examine literacy development (including early reading and writing behaviours); and rubrics that describe aspects of cognitive development. Please refer to Appendix B.

Saskatoon Public Schools’ Prekindergarten Assessment Tool

Please refer to Appendix C to find rubrics that address receptive language skills, expressive language skills, literacy skills, numeracy skills, academic skills, and other related areas of development.

Other Tools

There are many commercially published tests of language and cognitive development available to teachers and other professionals. At Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation workshops in 2004/05, teachers identified the Brigance Inventory of Early Development, the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test , the Boehm Test of Basic Concepts, and the Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills as being helpful. All of these tests have long records of credible use in North America. Teachers wishing to explore the merits of any such test may wish to consult with their school division’s student support services consultant.

One website that is very useful as a source of comparative information on many alternative tests is that of the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory http://www.sedl.org/reading/rad/chart.html .

The above references should meet the assessment needs of most Prekindergarten staff. If additional, more detailed information is required regarding the language, communication, or cognitive development of children, the teacher should contact a speech- language pathologist or educational psychologist.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.4. Family Engagement

NOTE:

As Prekindergarten children come to us from families and support structures of various forms, the terms “family” and “parents” are used synonymously in this section.

The family is the first and most important teacher that any child has. Prekindergarten personnel recognize that the children in their classes spend many more hours each week learning within the home and community than they do in the classroom setting. As a result, the instructional activities and learning that take place in the classroom are always mediated by the experiences in which the child participates in the home. Just as Prekindergarten staff care deeply for the well-being and development of the children in their care, so too, do family members want to see their youngsters thrive. Given this common interest, it is essential that school personnel make every effort to engage the children’s family members as active partners in the education enterprise.

Some families, however, are reticent to participate actively in the formal education of their children. Prekindergarten staff need to be inviting, supportive, accepting and gently persistent in order to optimize the participation of families. So, as Prekindergarten staff assess and evaluate their program’s family engagement practices, what should they look for? What are the characteristics of preferred engagement? What measures should be applied in evaluating success?

Prekindergarten staff need to be inviting, supportive, accepting and gently persistent in order to optimize the participation of families.

First, it is appropriate to acknowledge that the expectation for parental involvement in the Prekindergarten program is spelled out explicitly in Better Beginnings, Better Futures.

• The Vision Statement (p. 4) says, “ Family members and care givers are active participants in the children’s development and are provided with parenting skill development opportunities and social and health supports. Development and support for

Prekindergarten is the shared responsibility of school divisions, community agencies, family members and the province.”

• The program’s third goal (p. 4) is, “Increased Parenting

Effectiveness and Shared Responsibility

involvement in the Prekindergarten program, parents enhance their parenting skills and share responsibility for the well-being and education of their children.”

Through their active

• The program’s Principles and Strategies (pp. 5-6) reiterate the centrality of family engagement in the program.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

• The section on Parent and Family Involvement details the expectation that programs will have parents in the classroom; there will be home visits and liaison; there will be a parent/school advisory council; and there will be family education programs (pp. 12-15). Suggestions as to how to go about realizing these expectations are set out on pp. 42-45 and the roles expected of parents are detailed on pp. 49-50.

Developing Family Engagement Assessment and Evaluation Forms

One approach that Prekindergarten staff or administrators might take to assess and evaluate their program would be to use a form based on the 34 suggestions regarding family engagement found on pages 42-45 of Better Beginnings, Better Futures. Personnel could rate their program’s implementation of the respective suggestions, discuss the results, celebrate successes and set SMART goals regarding priority areas for improvement (see the SMART goals reference in Section 3.3).

Sample forms are shown in Tables 4.2 to 4.6. Teachers and administrators should modify the forms and content to reflect the particulars of their respective programs.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

TABLE 4.2: Involvement of Parents and Family Members in the Classroom

 

CRITERION

NEVER

SELDOM

OFTEN

COMMENT

 

(NO)

(YES)

Comfortable seating outside classroom door has been set up for parents.

       

Signs welcome parents and direct them to the Prekindergarten classroom.

       

Staff ask parents for information and suggestions regarding their children.

       

Food/snacks are provided to parents at school events.

       

Parents are used to recruit the engagement of other parents.

       

Parent volunteers are given meaningful tasks that use their skills.

       

Extended family members are encouraged to volunteer.

       

Parents are welcome to visit the classroom at any time.

       

TABLE 4.3: Communications with Families

 
 

CRITERION

NEVER

SELDOM

OFTEN

COMMENT

 

(NO)

(YES)

All verbal and written communication

       

is

clear and easily understood by parents.

Personal notes regarding the children’s learning are sent home on a regular basis.

       

Monthly newsletters and calendars of events are sent home.

       

A

“communications tree” has been

       

established to engage parents in helping communicate class information.

Home visits are conducted to establish and maintain trust and communication.

       

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

TABLE 4.4: Enhancing School/Home Liaison and Home Visits

 

CRITERION

NEVER

SELDOM

OFTEN

COMMENT

(NO)

(YES)

Arrangements for visits are made with the parents in advance.

       

The teacher plans the visit’s topics in advance and focuses on being positive and informal.

       

The teacher explains and models how she/he plays with the child in the Prekindergarten.

       

The teacher models the use of materials in the home that can be used to promote the child’s learning.

       

The teacher plans with the parents how they can play complementary roles in teaching the child.

       

The teacher tells the parent about the child’s favourite centres in the classroom and explains the importance of play in such settings.

       

The teacher talks to parents about their child’s development in positive terms.

       

The teacher explains how the children’s input regarding interests influences the instruction.

       

The teacher asks about the parents’ expectations regarding the Prekindergarten program.

       

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

TABLE 4.5: Parent Advisory Committees

 

CRITERION

NEVER

SELDOM

OFTEN

COMMENT

(NO)

(YES)

The advisory committee has clearly defined purposes, roles, responsibilities and authority.

       

The advisory committee deals with educationally meaningful and worthwhile issues.

       

The membership of the advisory committee is representative of the program’s families and community.

       

The advisory committee is inclusive and invites the participation of all interested parents.

       

The advisory committee provides opportunities for leadership skill development (e.g., problem solving, group dynamics, communication).

       

Meetings are well planned with agenda that are action oriented.

       

The school personnel accept that each advisory committee is unique in terms of member participation.

       

Please note that in Community Schools there should already be a Community School Council. It is not intended that the Prekindergarten program should necessarily duplicate this forum.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

TABLE 4.6: Providing Family Education Opportunities

 

CRITERION

NEVER

SELDOM

OFTEN

COMMENT

(NO)

(YES)

Teacher time is regularly scheduled to arrange and/or deliver family education sessions.

       

Discussion and observation inform collaboration with parents to determine family education topics.

       

Consultation with parents and possibly the Community School Coordinator determines the venues for family education activities (e.g., school, homes, or community venues).

       

The topics and locations of family education activities are varied according to the nature of learning activities.

       

Family education activities are scheduled to meet the families’ needs and the intended educational outcomes.

       

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria

In assessing and evaluating their practices and relationships with families, Prekindergarten teachers may also want to compare their program’s activities with those defined in the above document (see website reference in Section 2.6). The criteria contain over 40 references to best practices in this domain under the headings of:

• Building Positive Relationships Among Teachers and Families;

• Communicating With Families and Involving Families in the Assessment Process;

• Knowing and Understanding the Program’s Families;

• Sharing Information Between Staff and Families; and

• Nurturing Families as Advocates for Their Children.

In order to use the document’s criteria for more than a dialogue guide, Prekindergarten staff should connect the criteria to a rating scale similar to those in tables 4.2 to 4.6

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale

For those programs that use the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R), reference may be made to rubric #38, Provisions for Parents, as one source of assessment and evaluation information.

Ages and Stages Questionnaires

Prekindergarten teachers can communicate their respect for the parents by soliciting their opinions about the children’s learning achievements, needs, and interests. This may be done informally in the context of home visits or can be accomplished by having parents use formal instruments such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (see information on this instrument in 4.3). If formal instruments are to be used, the teacher should ensure that the parent has the reading skills needed to complete the tasks independently. If help is needed, the teacher, an educational assistant, or other personnel could guide the process.

Informal Communication with Families

Parents should feel that they have access to the Prekindergarten classroom on any day to converse with the teacher about their child (without disrupting the program, of course). Informal conversations before or after the classes are an excellent means of engaging the parents in a non-threatening manner.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Formal Communication with Families

Teachers also have the responsibility to create and to present formal reports to parents about the children’s progress. The formal report cards sent home from many schools try to serve two functions. First, they endeavour to communicate to parents the learning that the children have accomplished or on which they are working. Second, copies of the reports go into the children’s formal records to provide information about the children’s development over several years.

If a family faces literacy challenges, it is very difficult to design a reporting document that can communicate effectively with them and, at the same time, convey formal learning information that subsequently may be of interest to other teachers or school personnel. When confronted with such a challenge, teachers should ensure that the report card meets the need to communicate with the parents. In other words, the priority must be on developing a document that is clear and meaningful to parents. Ideally, a report card focuses on the children’s accomplishments, and addresses the most important elements of the program’s curriculum.

Sample report forms, may be seen in Appendix D. Please note that there is no standard form prescribed by the Saskatchewan Learning. Each program, in keeping with the unique learning needs and interests of each group of children, will have somewhat different emphasis.

Parents’ Evaluation of Prekindergarten Programming

It is traditional and expected that teachers will assess and evaluate the work of children and report their results to parents. It is less conventional, but highly desirable, that teachers ask parents to assess and evaluate dimensions of school programs. Although novel in most school settings, the practice of treating the parents as clients whose opinions and judgements are valued can do much to inform program improvement and, to empower parents and help them gain confidence in themselves and the school.

In recognition of the importance of working with parents as instructional partners, many Prekindergarten teachers make it a practice to ask parents to provide feedback regarding the program as a whole or about specific activities in which the parents have participated. Sample forms that address these purposes may be found in Appendix E.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.5 Partnerships

School PLUS in Saskatchewan has two main thrusts. One is to support school improvement. The other is to promote the school as the point of contact with children and families regarding coordinated service delivery from supporting agencies (education, community health, social services, and other).

The development of the Prekindergarten assessment and evaluation guidelines endeavours to support the first thrust by providing theoretical and practical guidelines and resources to Prekindergarten, community early learning and child care, school, and school division personnel on all dimensions of their early childhood programs.

Specific support for the second School PLUS thrust is provided in this section of this document. It considers the assessment and evaluation of the relationships the Prekindergarten program has developed with the agency partners that contribute to early childhood programs in the community and school, and, in particular, the Prekindergarten program as a point of contact for identifying and addressing children’s and family’s needs.

Better Beginnings, Better Futures is explicit in recognizing the importance of agency and community partnerships in the Prekindergarten setting.

• The Vision Statement indicates that family members and parents “are provided with parenting skill development opportunities and social and health supports” (p. 4).

• The Principles and Strategies state that “teachers work in partnership with family members, the parent groups and community agencies to strengthen the learning program and to provide the range of supports students need” (p. 5). Reference is also made to the expectation that in the Prekindergarten setting, “a comprehensive range of supports and services is provided in a coordinated and integrated manner to holistically meet the needs of children and their families” (p. 5).

• The document elaborates on the Characteristics of Effective Community Partnerships and Service Integration (pp.15-16).

• The Roles and Responsibilities of community members and agencies in the Prekindergarten setting are described on p. 50.

Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria

Teachers, administrators, and other professionals may wish to assess and evaluate their relationships in using accreditation criteria developed by the National Association for the Education of Young

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Children (NAEYC). Please refer to the website reference in Section 2.4. The section headed Community Partnerships lists criteria that address:

• Linking With Community;

• Accessing Community Resources; and

• Acting as a Citizen in the Neighbourhood and the Early Childhood Community.

These criteria may have to be linked to a rating scale or comments form in order to contribute to a local assessment and evaluation dialogue.

Better Beginnings Better Futures Project - Ontario

Prekindergarten teachers, supervisors, and administrators who are interested in optimizing collaboration with community members and agencies may wish to refer to the Better Beginnings Better Futures project in Ontario. This project comprised eight local initiatives in disadvantaged communities over a ten year span during the 1990s. The lessons learned about integrated service delivery included:

• the importance of interpersonal relationships based on mutual trust and respect;

• a recognition of the importance of allowing sufficient time, as well as a focus on the process;

• involving agencies with connections and commitment to the community;

• an active investment by Better Beginnings project staff and community residents; and,

• specific structures such as program-focused work groups, as well as involvement of both frontline and management staff

( Better Beginnings Better Futures Project Reports, 1995).

The lessons cited above may be found at http://bbbf.queensu.ca/pdfs/es_spn.pdf .

The complete reports for the Better Beginnings Better Futures project may be found at http://bbbf.queensu.ca/pdfs/BB-Highlights.pdf .

Assessing and Evaluating Collaborative Relationship and Practices

Collaboration with partner agencies and the community is central to the Prekindergarten program. It is very important that teachers, administrators, other professionals, and community members reflect upon their relationships and practices in order to ensure that they are effective and efficient in serving clients’ needs and in fulfilling the mandates of the respective agencies. Although agencies have

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

collaborated historically in many settings in Saskatchewan, it has been rare for them to assess and evaluate the efficacy of their relationships and practices. The suggestions that follow will support such undertakings.

Obtaining Feedback from Community Partners

The Dialogue Guide that follows provides a template that may be reviewed by all interested partners as they approach the task of assessing and evaluating the efficacy of their partnership practices. A useful preliminary activity would be to reach consensus regarding the use and/or modification of such an instrument. Personnel should feel free to make any modifications that are appropriate for local circumstances. They should also agree on the timing, location, and ground rules to apply the use of this instrument prior to getting into substantive assessment and evaluation activities.

The Dialogue Guide is intended to support the assessment and evaluation of the collaborative interaction among the Prekindergarten program and other agencies. Program personnel may also want to assess and evaluate the relationships that they have with non-agency community contacts. These contacts may be local businesses (e.g., pet stores, grocery stores, bakeries), farms, recreation centres, senior citizen homes, fire department, and so on, to which the children make field trips or that contribute goods or services to the program.

As such contacts are essential to enriching the experiences of the children, it is appropriate for the Prekindergarten staff to solicit feedback from the community partners in order to ensure that their expectations are being met and that the relationships can continue. Teachers might follow up field trips with a short thank-you note and a form with a few questions. Such questions might include:

1. Did the children seem properly prepared for the field trip? Did they ask questions?

2. Was there adequate supervision of the children during the field trip?

3. Was the timing of the field trip suitable for your schedule? Please suggest alternatives if appropriate.

4. Was the visit to your facility an appropriate length? Please suggest alternatives if appropriate.

5. Do you have any other suggestions as to how to improve our Prekindergarten’s visits to your facility?

Questions like these reinforce the thanks that you have already expressed and emphasize the value that you place on the opinions of the field trip hosts.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

A Dialogue Guide for the Assessment and Evaluation of the Efficacy of Agency Partnerships in the Prekindergarten Setting

The following questions may be used by Prekindergarten staff and their agency partners to assess and evaluate the quality and effectiveness of their collaborations in support of children and families. The questions are intended to support dialogue among partner agencies about their communication and partnership practices. These questions are not intended to focus on the service needs of individual children or clients.

1. With which children and their families do you share a common interest? In general, what service needs are most evident?

2. Without focusing on a particular child or client family, what kinds of supports, services or interventions does each partner agency provide to the Prekindergarten school community?

3. In what ways do/could the services of the respective partners complement each other?

4. Bearing in mind your responses to the preceding questions, please reflect on the following practices in your relationships as agency partners:

a. How have the school administrator(s) or agency supervisors expressed their support for partnership activities? Is there a need for them to clarify their expectations regarding the implementation of the Province’s School PLUS policy?

b. Are there any regulatory or legislative barriers that affect the sharing of information about children or families among the partner agencies? If there are, have senior administrators been advised of the issues? What follow-up is taking place?

c. Do the partner agencies have protocols for the sharing of information about client children and families? If so, are they clear and helpful? If not, are they needed? Who should develop or refine them?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

d. Do partner agencies meet on a regular scheduled basis to discuss the needs of Prekindergarten children and their families, or are such meetings called as needed? Does the present arrangement meet your needs?

e. Who is responsible for leading the meetings? Do all partners feel that they are equals at the table? What norms have been established to ensure this equality?

f. Do all partners feel a responsibility for contributing to the success and effectiveness of the collaboration?

g. Are there provisions for inviting other service agencies or the school staff who work with older siblings into school-based collaboration on an ad hoc basis? What special protocol considerations do such situations prompt?

h. What process is used to set service goals with families? How are the respective agencies’ roles in supporting the goals defined? How is progress toward goal attainment monitored, assessed, and evaluated?

i. Please describe a shared initiative that benefited a Prekindergarten child and/or his/her

j. Is there a situation in which more or different collaboration could have been more effective? What barriers or issues got in the way of success? What can you do to address those barriers or issues?

The preceding questions focused on the nature of your relationships. The following questions focus on structural elements.

5. Meetings and collaborative planning take time. Are the arrangements that you have for scheduling consultation and collaboration satisfactory? If not, how might they be improved?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

6. Is the location of your meetings convenient and functional? If not, what changes should be made?

7. What else needs to be discussed in order to improve the effectivness of your collaborative relationships?

8. Please rate, on a scale of 1 to10 (with 10 being the highest rating), the quality and effectivness of your collaboration in support of the preschool children and their families. What would it take to move to the next highest number on the scale?

9. Will the outcomes of this dialogue be communicated to the supervisory personnel of your respective agencies? If yes, who is responsible for forwarding the information?

10. In the interest of improving professional relationships and resulting outcomes for Prekindergarten children and their families, regular assessment and evaluation dialogues should take place among agency partners. Was this exercise useful? How might it be improved? When will the next relationship review dialogue take place?

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

4.6 Long Term Effects

The assessment and evaluation of the long-term effects of Prekindergarten programs can be undertaken for any or all of the following purposes:

a. to track the progress of individual children in order to determine supports needed in future years at the school or division levels;

b. to monitor the extent to which the benefits of the Prekindergarten program persist in subsequent years so as to inform program improvement, staff development, and/or program coordination issues at the school, division, and provincial levels; and

c. to provide information regarding the effectiveness of Prekindergarten programs to inform resource allocation decisions at the division and provincial levels.

The following information discusses the rationale for each of these purposes and suggest some approaches to consider.

Determining Continuous Supports

Teachers and administrators who provide or observe Prekindergarten programs on a regular basis see the remarkable developmental gains achieved by the participating children on a weekly or monthly basis. For these individuals, there is no question about the learning that is accomplished by the Prekindergarten children as three and four-year olds.

Currently, many of the children have been admitted to the program because of a variety of vulnerability factors. The Prekindergarten program, coupled with the parent engagement and supports that may be provided, temporarily enrich the learning environment and support success. However, the original risk factors are seldom eliminated. This begs the question about what assessment and evaluation practices need to be put in place in order to inform decisions about how the community and school can ensure that appropriate supports continue to be available to children and families in the subsequent years, when the children are in Kindergarten or later grades.

The following information provides suggestions for addressing the long-term needs of vulnerable children.

Planning Be proactive! As enhanced services are likely to be needed by graduates of the Prekindergarten program, the school administrator(s) could facilitate planning meetings or case conferences each spring to discuss the learning and support needs of each child. Data from the assessment and evaluation of each of the dimensions of child development could be used. As well, input from the personnel from

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

other support agencies who might be working with a particular family should also be considered. The family must be active participants in these review and planning meetings. Interagency partners may also use this setting to propose how they intend to continue to provide services. All of this information will be valuable to the receiving teacher and other personnel as they plan for the fall.

By establishing the routine of holding such planning meetings that deal with the continuing needs of the children, school, agency personnel, and the families can sustain the very valuable momentum that has developed over the one or two years in the program. The planning meetings should be held every spring for children from previous years’ Prekindergarten classes so long as some extraordinary level of scaffolding of learning support is deemed to be needed.

Transferring Records to Other Schools or Divisions Transience is a common characteristic of many families whose children are served in Prekindergarten programs. As such, it is very important that school administrators ensure that the learning records of children are made available to the staff of schools that may subsequently serve the former Prekindergarten children. Intra- division meetings may be required where families move within a school division. When families move outside of the school division, special efforts may be needed to ensure that the receiving schools get the appropriate learning records.

In order to inform the dialogue about children and their families’ needs, it is important that the Prekindergarten teacher have a very well-organized set of student records. In addition to the cumulative folder that will accompany the child through subsequent grades, the records should also include a file of assessment and evaluation data from teacher-made or standardized instruments. As well, a portfolio of the child’s work should be developed that illustrates the learning growth that has been accomplished over the year. Each school or school division is encouraged to develop a policy regarding the contents of the portfolios as well as how the contents of the portfolio should be retained or sent home with the students. Several credible publications regarding student portfolios are commercially available or can be borrowed from professional libraries.

Informing Program Improvement, Staff Development, and/or Program Coordination

The second purpose for developing a system of long-term assessment and evaluation of the Prekindergarten programs is to inform decisions about needs for program improvement, staff development, and/or program coordination.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Program Improvement The need for program improvement can be established if there is a persistent pattern of continuing learning needs among the graduates of a program. For example, if a school were to use the Early Development Instrument each year with its Kindergarten population and were to note that the children formerly in the Prekindergarten program were typically not ready to learn in a particular domain, the school staff could discuss ways in which the program could place greater emphasis on learning in that domain. Such dialogue might lead to accessing new resources, rebalancing the timetable, changing instructional practices, or creating and implementing staff development plans.

Staff Qualifications and Development Table 4.7 describes some practices and instruments that, if used on an annual basis, could contribute significantly to Prekindergarten program improvement. As people are key to such initiatives, staff development must play an integral role in program improvement efforts. Assessment and evaluation studies of Prekindergarten programs in other countries often identify concerns about the lack of qualified staff. The level of staff training and qualifications is a major predictors of quality learning outcomes for children and, in many locations, some teachers lack formal training.

In Saskatchewan, all school-based Prekindergarten programs are staffed with teachers with certificates, typically with at least Bachelor of Education degrees. Teacher certificates in Saskatchewan allow one to teach at virtually every grade level. Many Prekindergarten teachers have come to their positions with training and experience at higher grade levels, but have no formal training in serving the special developmental needs of three- and four-year olds. Such teachers need to have opportunities to take formal courses related to serving the learning needs of young children. Enquiries about such courses may be directed to the University of Regina or the University of Saskatchewan.

School division/school assessment and evaluation strategies must include questions about the adequacy and currency of teacher and teacher assistant early childhood training. Those programs that use the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale - Revised as an assessment and evaluation instrument may wish to supplement it with additional questions and/or rubrics, as only rubric #43 addresses the topic of staff development. The criteria and rating scales associated with the other two instruments cited in Table 4.7, the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria and the U.S. Department of Education’s Pre-Kindergarten Self-Assessment Tool, both have elements related to personnel preservice and inservice education and training.

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Even teachers and educational assistants who have had the benefit of formal studies in the early education field will acknowledge that their field of practice is evolving constantly and they need to stay current with the insights generated by the large volume of early learning and cognitive science research. As a result, it is important that school division, school and community professional development practices support growth opportunities for all Prekindergarten staff.

Professional growth is accomplished best when individual staff members identify a personal need to learn specific concepts or skills. Such needs to learn can be informed by:

• priorities identified by the individual based on personal reflection on daily practice;

• feedback derived from formal supervision activities; or

• program assessment data generated through the use of one of the instruments cited in Table 4.7.

Optimally, program staff and administrators would collaborate to set staff development goals that address elements of professional growth for individuals that also support priority improvement goals for the Prekindergarten program. Please refer to Section 3.3 for more information on setting SMART goals in the context of professional learning communities.

Coordinating Follow-up Programming Another function for long-term assessment and evaluation strategies for Prekindergarten programs is to provide data that informs program coordination. The importance to individual children and families of ensuring that the momentum gained in the Prekindergarten context is maintained in subsequent grades is described in Determining Continuous Supports. The assessment and evaluation data about individual children also should be aggregated so as to inform broader program requirements. Information from the Early Development Instrument , the NAEYC Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria or the Self-Assessment Tool described above can serve this purpose by identifying the continuing learning needs of groups of children. With such needs identified, it would be possible for school or division administrators to put in place appropriate follow-up programs, services and personnel.

Informing Future Resource Allocation Decisions

Local and provincial level politicians and senior administrators have to be concerned about the effectiveness of investing resources in the Prekindergarten program. In other words, they are obliged to ask

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

whether the money and resources that are spent on Prekindergarten programs could be spent in other ways that would ultimately produce better effects for children, families and society.

As well, Prekindergarten programs are not ends in themselves. Rather, they potentially contribute to the subsequent success in life of the participants and, indirectly, contribute to the well-being of society as a whole. Decision makers must ask, “What are the long- term benefits that children and families derive from Prekindergarten programs?”

Building strong foundations for learning among young children has been supported consistently by studies of long-term outcomes.

• In Canada, such evidence was gathered through the Better Beginnings Better Futures research project in Ontario, reports of which are available at http://bbbf.queensu.ca/research.html .

• In the United States, similar data are available from the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation at their website http://www.highscope.org/NewsandInformation/PressReleases/ PerryP-Age40.htm .

The consistent conclusion is that children who attend high quality pre-school programs tend to develop cognitive and social skills that help them to succeed in school and in life in comparison to children from similar circumstances who did not attend high quality preschool programs.

While assessment and evaluation take time, skilled personnel and money, government, school divisions, and other funding agencies are responsible to ensure resources are used efficiently and effectively. The research reports cited above speak to the efficacy of high quality preschool programs. Are the school-based Prekindergarten programs in Saskatchewan of high quality?

There are two kinds of measures that can be used to determine whether Prekindergarten programs are, indeed, of high quality.

1. First, evaluators can refer to the substantial, credible, and current research that has been done to correlate certain inputs and program attributes with successful learning outcomes. In other words, if Saskatchewan programs demonstrate high standards on such instruments as the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) and also rate well on Likert-type scales associated with such instruments as the Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria or the U.S. Department of Education’s Guide to High-Quality

Assessment and Evaluation in Prekindergarten

Early Childhood Education Programs, it may be reasonable to presume that programs are, indeed, of high quality. Before committing to accepting the validity of these instruments, however, it would be appropriate to confirm the extent to which they are consistent with the philosophy and principles that guide the Saskatchewan Prekindergarten Program.

2. The second kind of measures that evaluators could use to establish the extent to which the Prekindergarten programs are of high quality are measures that indicate desired outcomes. Do children who have attended Prekindergarten programs have higher school attendance records than would otherwise be expected? Are readiness to learn data (as shown by Kindergarten teachers’ responses to the Early Development Instrument measures) better for program graduates than for children from comparable socio-economic circumstances? Is the performance of Prekindergarten graduates measurably better than that of children with similar risk factors who did not attend such programs in early literacy or other performance measures? What measures show increases in the competence or confidence levels of parents as a result of their engagement with school- based Prekindergarten programs?

The answers to these questions potentially lie in the data that schools and communities could gather if they were to undertake a systematic and comprehensive effort to address the assessment and evaluation of the domains described in Section 4 of this document. Such data could be aggregated at the district and provincial levels to provide senior administrators and politicians with the information that would inform both input and outcome questions.

Table 4.7: Long-Term Effects — Suggestion for Data Collection

Early Development Instrument

The advantages to using the Early Development Instrument (EDI)

(please refer to detailed information about EDI in Section 4.3) are:

a. It is recently developed.

b. It is based on Canadian programs and research.

c. It provides comparative data based on current Canadian children and programs.

d. Most importantly, it focuses on the apparent readiness of the children to learn in the Kindergarten environment, thus reflecting indirectly the effects of the Prekindergarten program that some of the children would have attended.

Teachers and administrators may choose to compare the readiness to learn of Prekindergarten children to others from the same program from year to year; make comparisons with the performance of children nationally; compare the readiness to learn of Prekindergarten graduates with the general population; or compare the readiness to learn of the Prekindergarten graduates with a sample of local children from similar socio-economic circumstances who did not participate in the program.

Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale

As noted above in the section on the Prekindergarten Environment (please see Section 4.1), the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R) provides ratings on seven-point rubrics for many dimensions of Prekindergarten programs. If the ECERS-R were to be used on a regular recurring basis by qualified raters, it would generate useful data to gauge program improvement.

National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria

Another instrument that teachers and administrators might find useful in providing data to support long-term assessments and evaluations is the National Association for the Education of Young Children's Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Performance Criteria (please refer to the details regarding this instrument in Section 2.4). A local program review team comprising Prekindergarten program staff, a program administrator, support agency personnel, and parents could review those dimensions of the program of interest using the stated criteria along with a five point rating scale that gives a value of “1” to those items which “are not descriptive of the local program”, through “5” for those criteria which are “highly descriptive of the local program”. (Given that the instrument provides 35 pages of criteria associated with exemplary Prekindergarten programs, members of the review team should choose priority domains to examine in any given year so as to provide focus and a manageable task.)

The ratings for the criteria could prompt constructive dialogue regarding program improvement, and the comparative ratings, year to year, could measure changes in program quality. Such measures and ratings would be based on the informed but subjective opinions of the participating evaluators and so no comparisons with other programs could be made. Nevertheless, the criteria are well-founded and comprehensive and could prove valuable to those interested in program improvement. The draft criteria may be found at http://www.naeyc.org/accreditation/naeyc_accred/draft_standards/crit/completecriteria.html

Pre-Kindergarten Self-Assessment Tool

Another instrument that may be used locally to assess and evaluate Prekindergarten program quality and progress toward improvement from year to year is the Pre-Kindergarten Self-Assessment Tool designed for use with public school-based

programs for three- and four-year olds in the United States. The 68 item scale is similar to the more comprehensive instrument referred to in the preceding paragraph in that it identifies those attributes that research has associated with effective preschool programs. The attributes are listed under the domains of:

a. Quality Indicators of Parent Involvement

b. Quality of Learning Environments

c. Quality of Early Childhood Pedagogy

d. Quality of Early Childhood Curriculum

e. Quality of Early Childhood Staff

f. Quality of Assessment and Continuous Improvement

The 11 page Self-Assessment Tool may be found on p. 40-50 of the document Building Strong Foundations for Early Learning: The U.S. Department of Education's Guide to High-Quality Early Childhood Education Programs (Dwyer, Chait, McKee, 2000) that is accessible at http://www.ed.gov/offices/OUS/PES/early_learning/index.html

A

APPENDIX A

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR EARLY EDUCATION RESEARCH

Preschool Assessment:

A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach

National Institute for Early Education Research

Preschool Assessment:

A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach*

by Ann S. Epstein, Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Andrea DeBruin-Parecki and Kenneth B. Robin Issue 7 / July

2004

*This policy brief is a joint publication of the National Institute for Early Education Research and the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. Reprinted with permission from the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Child assessment is a vital and growing component of high-quality early childhood programs. Not only is it an important tool in understanding and supporting young children’s development, it is essential to document and evaluate program effectiveness. For assessment to be widely used though, it must employ methods that are feasible, sustainable and reasonable with regards to demands on budgets, educators and children.

Equally important, it must meet the challenging demands of validity (accuracy and effectiveness) for young children. It is the balance between efficiency and validity that demands the constant attention of policymakers — and an approach grounded in a sound understanding of appropriate methodology.

What We Know:

Assessment is an ongoing process that includes collecting, synthesizing and interpreting information about pupils, the classroom and their instruction. Testing is one form of assessment that, appropriately applied, systematically measures skills such as literacy and numeracy. While it does not provide a complete picture, testing is an important tool, for both its efficiency and ability to measure prescribed bodies of knowledge. Alternative or “authentic” forms of assessment can be culturally sensitive and pose an alternative to testing, but they require a larger investment in establishing criteria for judging development and evaluator training. Child assessment has value that goes well beyond measuring progress in children – to evaluating programs, identifying staff development needs and planning future instruction. The younger the child, the more difficult it is to obtain valid assessments. Early development is rapid, episodic and highly influenced by experience. Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.

Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.
Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.
Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.
Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.
Performance on an assessment is affected by children’s emotional states and the conditions of the assessment.

Policy Recommendations:

Require that measures included in an assessment be selected by qualified professionals to

ensure that they are reliable, valid and appropriate for the children being assessed. Develop systems of analyses so that test scores are interpreted as part of a broader assessment that may include observations, portfolios, or ratings from teachers and/or parents.

Base policy decisions on an evaluation of data that reflects all aspects of children’s development – cognitive, emotional, social, and physical. Involve teachers and parents in the assessment process so that children’s behaviors and abilities can be understood in various contexts and cooperative relationships among families and school staff can be fostered. Provide training for early childhood teachers and administrators to understand and interpret standardized tests and other measures of learning and development. Emphasize precautions specific to the assessment of young children.

tests and other measures of learning and development. Emphasize precautions specific to the assessment of young
tests and other measures of learning and development. Emphasize precautions specific to the assessment of young

Purpose

This brief addresses the many questions about testing preschool children. Our purpose is three- fold:

(a)

to provide basic information about the terms and issues surrounding assessment;

(b)

to add an empirical and pragmatic perspective to what can sometimes be an impassioned debate; and

(c)

to support parents, policy makers and early childhood educators in using assessments to do what is best for young children and support the programs and policies that serve them.

Child assessment is a vital and necessary component of all high-quality early childhood programs. Assessment is important to understand and support young children’s development. It is also essential to document and evaluate how effectively programs are meeting young children’s educational needs, in the broadest sense of this term. For assessment to occur, it must be feasible. That is, it must meet reasonable criteria regarding its efficiency, cost, and so on. If assessment places an undue burden on programs or evaluators, it will not be undertaken at all and the lack of data will hurt all concerned. In addition to feasibility, however, assessment must also meet the demands of validity. The assessment must address the criteria outlined below for informing us about what children in real programs are learning and doing every day.

Efficiency and validity are not mutually exclusive but must sometimes be balanced against one another. The challenge is to find the best balance under the conditions that exist and when necessary, to work toward improving those conditions. Practically speaking, this means we must continue to serve children using research-based practices, fulfill mandates to secure program resources, and improve assessment procedures to better realize our ideal. This paper sets forth the criteria to be considered in striving to make early childhood assessment adhere to these highest standards.

Background

Concern with assessment in the early childhood field is not new. Decades of debate are summarized in the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) publication Reaching Potentials:Appropriate Curriculum and Assessment for Young Children. 1 This position statement has been expanded by NAEYC and the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS/SDE) in a new document

titled Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and Program Evaluation: Building an Effective, Accountable System in Programs for Children Birth through Age 8. 2

What is new in this ongoing debate is the heightened attention to testing young children as a means of holding programs accountable for their learning. Peter Airasian’s Assessment in the Classroom offers the following definitions:

“Assessment is the process of collecting, synthesizing, and interpreting information to aid classroom decision-making. It includes information gathered about pupils, instruction, and classroom climate.” 3

“Testing is a formal, systematic procedure for gathering a sample of pupils’ behavior. The results of a test are used to make generalizations about how pupils would have performed on similar but untested behaviors.” 4

Testing is one form of assessment. It usually involves a series of direct requests to children to perform, within a set period of time, specific tasks designed and administered by adults, with predetermined correct answers. By contrast, alternative forms of assessment may be completed either by adults or children, are more open-ended, and often look at performance over an extended period of time. Examples include structured observations, portfolio analyses of individual and collaborative work, and teacher and parent ratings of children’s behavior.

The current Head Start testing initiative focuses primarily on literacy and to a lesser extent numeracy. The rationale for this initiative, advanced in the No Child Left Behind Act and supported by the report of the National Reading Panel 5 , is that young children should acquire a prescribed body of knowledge and academic skills to be ready for school. Social domains of school readiness, while also touted as essential in a series of National Research Council reports 6 , are admittedly neither as widely mandated nor as “testable” as their academic counterparts. Hence, whether justified or not, they do not figure as prominently in the testing and accountability debate.

This brief responds to questions being asked of early childhood leaders about the use and misuse of testing for preschoolers 3 to 5 years old. This response is not merely a reactive gesture nor an attempt to advance and defend a specific position. Rather, the brief is intended as a resource to provide information about when and how preschool assessment in general, and testing and other forms of assessment in particular, can be appropriately used for purposes that include informing policy decisions about early childhood programming.

As a framework for providing this information, this policy brief accepts two realities. First, testing is, will be, and always has been, used to answer questions about the effectiveness of early childhood programs. Since early childhood programs attempt to increase children’s knowledge and skills in specific content areas, evaluators have traditionally used testing, along with other assessment strategies, to determine whether these educational objectives have been achieved. Second, program accountability is essential, and testing is one efficient means of

measuring it. Numerous research studies show that high-quality programs can enhance the academic and lifetime achievement of children at risk of school failure. This conclusion has resulted in an infusion of public and private dollars in early education. It is reasonable to ask whether this investment is achieving its goal. Testing can play a role in answering this accountability question.

With this reality as a background, we proceed to address two questions. First, given the current pervasive use of testing and its probable expansion, when and under what conditions can this type of assessment be used appropriately with preschool-age children? That is, what characteristics of tests and their administration will guarantee that we “do no harm” to children and that we “do help” adults acquire valid information? Second, given that even the most well- designed tests can provide only limited data, how can we maximize the use of non-test assessments so they add valuable information beyond that obtained through standardized testing procedures?

General Issues in Assessment

Uses of Child Assessment Assessment can provide four types of information for and about children and their parents, teachers, and programs. Child assessment can:

1. Identify children who may be in need of specialized services. Screening children to

determine whether they would benefit from specific interventions is appropriate when parents, teachers or other professionals suspect a problem. When screening indicates a problem, further

assessments in several related domains are then usually administered to the child. In addition, data from parents and other adults involved with the child are considered in determining a diagnosis and course of treatment.

2. Plan instruction for individuals and groups of children. Assessment data can be used by

teachers to support the development of individual children, as well as to plan instructional activities for the class as a whole. In addition, information on developmental progress can and should be shared with parents to help them understand what and how their children are learning in the classroom and how they can extend this learning at home.

3. Identify program improvement and staff development needs. Child assessments can provide

formative evaluation data that benefit program and staff development. Findings can point to areas of the curriculum that need further articulation or resources or areas where staff need professional development. If children in the classroom as a whole are not making progress in certain developmental domains, it is possible that the curriculum needs revision or that teachers need some additional training. In conducting formative evaluations, child data are best combined with program data that measure overall quality, fidelity to curriculum implementation standards and specific teaching practices.

4. Evaluate how well a program is meeting goals for children. It is this fourth purpose, sometimes called outcome or summative evaluation, that is the primary focus of this paper. Note that it is the program, not the young child, who should be held accountable through assessment. Although data may be collected on individual children, data should be aggregated to determine whether the program is achieving its desired outcomes. These outcomes may be defined by the program itself and/or by national, state, or district standards. How the outcomes are measured is determined by the inherent link between curriculum and assessment. Ideally, if a curriculum has clear learning objectives, those will drive the form and content of the measures. Conversely, thoughtful design of an appropriate assessment tool can encourage program developers to consider what and how adults should be teaching young children.

Reliability and Validity Any formal assessment tool or method should meet established criteria for validity and reliability. 7

Reliability refers to the consistency, or reproducibility of measurements. A sufficiently reliable test will yield similar results across time for a single child, even if different examiners or different forms of the test are used. Reliability is expressed as a coefficient between 0 (absence of reliability) and 1 (perfect reliability). Generally, for individualized tests of cognitive or special abilities, a reliability coefficient of .80 or higher is considered acceptable.

Validity is the degree to which a test measures what it is supposed to measure. Because tests are only valid for a specific purpose and assessments are conducted for so many different reasons, there is no single type of validity that is most appropriate across tests. Content validity refers to the extent to which the items on an instrument are representative of the key aspects of the domain it is supposed to measure. Irrelevant items or the absence of items to address some important element of a domain will negatively impact content validity. Face validity deals with appearance rather than content. A test has face validity if it appears to measure what it purports to measure.

In assessing young children, two aspects of validity have special importance – developmental validity and predictive validity. Developmental validity means the performance items being measured are developmentally suitable for the children being assessed. Predictive validity is the correlation between a test score and future performance on a relevant criterion. A test would have strong predictive validity, for example, if superior performance on the test was strongly associated with a high level of achievement later in school. The criterion to which test performance is compared may be another test or an indicator such as grade retention, special education placement or high school graduation. A test must be reliable in order to be valid but not all reliable tests are valid.

Principles and Recommendations for Early Childhood Assessments, a report to the National Education Goals Panel, noted that “the younger the child, the more difficult it is to obtain reliable and valid assessment data. It is particularly difficult to assess children’s cognitive abilities accurately before age 6.” 8 One prominent expert on early childhood assessment

concludes, “research demonstrates that no more than 25 per cent of early academic or cognitive performance is predicted from information obtained from preschool or kindergarten tests.” 9 Growth in the early years is rapid, episodic and highly influenced by environmental supports. Performance is influenced by children’s emotional and motivational states and by the assessment conditions themselves. Because these individual and situational factors affect reliability and validity, assessment of young children should be pursued with the necessary safeguards and caveats about the accuracy of the decisions that can be drawn from the results. These procedures and cautions are explored in the following.

Assessment Methods

The quality of an assessment depends in part upon decisions made before any measure is administered to a child. Before selecting an instrument for use with a given population of children, project designers should be able to explain why that specific measure is being used and what they hope to learn from the results. Selection of instruments is guided by the purposes and goals of the assessment. Assessment strategies lie along a continuum ranging from formal to informal. Types of measures that might be selected to represent either extreme include standardized testing (formal) and naturalistic observation (informal). The fundamental difference between formal and informal assessment is the degree of constraint placed on children’s behavior, or level of intrusiveness into their lives. 10

The ideal testing environment, as well as who is best qualified to administer measures, will depend in part on where along the formal-informal continuum an assessment lies. A standardized test is most effective when delivered by an examiner who has specialized training and experience with that specific instrument. Designers of standardized tests usually describe in test manuals the type of environment that must be created in order to obtain valid results. Most individual tests of cognitive ability must be administered in a controlled, relatively quiet area where a child is not likely to be distracted or interrupted. In contrast, informal assessments are ideally delivered by a child’s teacher, or by another professional who interacts regularly with the child. These types of assessments often take place in a natural setting such as a classroom or playground. For the most part, examiners do not intrude in children’s behavior when conducting an informal assessment.

The choice of an assessment strategy is also affected by the available resources in terms of time, money, and staff. Some assessments are more time and cost intensive than others. For example, one effective approach to identifying special needs (e.g., disabilities) is to use standardized tests to screen all children. These tools can be quickly and inexpensively administered to large populations of children. Children identified as potentially at risk or in need of further intervention can then receive follow-up evaluations using more intensive assessments including informal measures. Methods such as observation, parent interviews, analysis of work samples, or teacher ratings can lead to collection of in-depth and authentic data that reflect a “whole child” approach to the estimation of competence and need.

A comprehensive assessment normally requires a multimethod approach in order to encompass

the many dimensions of children’s skills and abilities. Formal and informal assessment strategies each have strengths and weaknesses, so an approach that combines or balances the two is most likely to provide a thorough evaluation of children across their cognitive, emotional, social, and biological strengths and needs. A repeated measures design is also preferable, especially with standardized tests, as performance of young children on assessment tasks will fluctuate according to mood and environment, as well as their rapid and sporadic development.

Standardized Testing Standardized tests represent the most formal extreme of the assessment continuum because they place the greatest constraints on children’s behavior. These tests are given under strictly controlled, standard conditions so that, to the extent possible, each child is assessed in exactly the same way. Standardized test scores allow for fair comparisons among individual or groups

of test takers. Because standard administration is essential to obtain valid results, the skill of

the examiner is of particular importance when using this type of assessment.

Standardized tests can be used to obtain information on whether a program is achieving its desired outcomes and are thus often integral components of systems of accountability. They are

considered objective, time- and cost-efficient, and suitable for making quantitative comparisons

of

aggregated data across groups. Testing will only meet these expectations fully if the standard

of

comparison is developmentally and culturally appropriate. When used appropriately,

standardized tests can effectively eliminate biases in assessment of individual children.

There is some concern about how well standardized tests work with young children. The younger the child, the more difficult it can be to obtain valid scores. Preschoolers may not understand the demands of the testing situation, and may respond unpredictably to the testing conditions. Performance is highly influenced by children’s emotional states and experience, so that test scores across time may be relatively unstable. To address these limitations, examiners may choose to supplement standardized test scores with results from informal measures.

Informal Assessment Methods Informal methods offer another approach to assessment. These other methods often fall under the banner of “authentic” or “naturalistic” assessments. They engage or evaluate children on tasks that are personally meaningful, take place in real life contexts, and are grounded in naturally occurring instructional activities. They offer multiple ways of evaluating students’ learning, as well as their motivation, achievement, and attitudes.

This type of assessment should be consistent with the goals, curriculum, and instructional practices of the classroom or program with which it is associated. 11 Authentic assessments do not rely on unrealistic or arbitrary time constraints, nor do they emphasize instant recall or depend on lucky guesses. Progress toward mastery is the key, and content is mastered as a means, not as an end. 12 To document accomplishments, assessments must be designed to be

longitudinal, to sample the baseline, the increment, and the preserved levels of change that follow from instruction. 13

Informal assessment can be more expensive than standardized testing. Like their counterparts in testing, informal measures must meet reasonable standards of demonstrated reliability and validity, though less emphasis tends to be placed on the psychometric quality of informal assessment tools. Their use, especially on a widespread scale, requires adequate resources. Assessors must be trained to acceptable levels of reliability. Data collection, coding, entry, and analysis are also time- and cost-intensive. This investment can be seen as reasonable and necessary, however, if the goal is to produce information about children’s competencies on real-life tasks in natural and authentic settings. Informal child assessment procedures that can meet acceptable levels of reliability and validity include observations, portfolios and ratings of children by teachers and parents.

Observations In assessing young children, the principal alternative to testing is systematic observation of children’s activities in their day-to-day settings. Observation fits an interactive style of curriculum, in which give-and-take between teacher and child is the norm. Although careful observation requires effort, the approach has high ecological validity and intrudes minimally into what children are doing. Children’s activities naturally integrate all dimensions of their development–intellectual, motivational, social, physical, aesthetic, and so on.

Anecdotal notes alone, however, are not sufficient for good assessment. They do not offer criteria against which to judge the developmental value of children’s activities or provide evidence of reliability and validity. Instead, anecdotal notes should be used to complete developmental scales of proven reliability and validity. Such an approach permits children to engage in activities any time and anywhere that teachers can see them. It defines categories of acceptable answers rather than single right answers. It expects the teacher to set the framework for children to initiate their own activities. It embraces a broad definition of child development that includes not only language and mathematics but also initiative, social relations, physical skills and the arts. It is culturally sensitive when teachers are trained observers who focus on objective, culturally neutral descriptions of behavior (for example, “Pat hit Bob”) rather than subjective, culturally loaded interpretations (for example, “Pat was very angry with Bob”). Finally, it empowers teachers by recognizing their judgment as essential to accurate assessment.

Portfolios One of the most fitting ways to undertake authentic, meaningful evaluation is through the use of a well-constructed portfolio system. Arter and Spandel define a portfolio as “a purposeful collection of student work that tells the story of the student’s efforts, progress, or achievement in (a) given area(s). This collection must include student participation in selection of portfolio content, the guidelines for selection, the criteria for judging merit, and evidence of student self- reflection.” 14

Portfolios describe both a place (the physical space where they are stored) and a process. The process provides richer information than standardized tests, involves multiple sources and methods of data collection, and occurs over a representative period of time. 15

In addition, they encourage two- and three-way collaboration between students, teachers, and parents; promote ownership and motivation; integrate assessment with instruction and learning; and establish a quantitative and qualitative record of progress over time.16 They can provide credible, meaningful evidence of students’ learning and development to parents, teachers, and others that can be used to inform practice and policy in the preschool classroom or at higher levels of the educational system. 17

The purposes for which portfolios are used are as variable as the programs that use them. 18 In some programs, they are simply a place to store the best work that has been graded in a traditional manner. In others, they are used to create longitudinal systems to demonstrate the process leading to the products and to design evaluative rubrics for program accountability. There are also programs that merely have students collect work that is important to them as a personal, non-evaluative record of their achievements. When portfolios are not used to judge ability in some agreed-upon fashion, they are usually not highly structured and may not even include reflective pieces that demonstrate student growth and understanding.

Portfolios are most commonly thought of as an assessment approach appropriate in elementary and secondary schools. Yet they have long been used in preschools to document and share children’s progress with parents, administrators and others. For portfolios to be used for program accountability, as well as student learning and reflection, the evaluated outcomes must be aligned with curriculum and instruction. Children must have some choice about what to include if they are to feel ownership and pride. Portfolios should document the creative or problem-solving process as they display the product, encouraging children to reflect on their actions. Conversations with children about their portfolios engage them in the evaluation process and escalate their desire to demonstrate their increasing knowledge and skills. Sharing portfolios with parents can help teachers connect school activities to the home and involve parents in their children’s education.

Teacher Ratings Teacher ratings are a way to organize teacher perceptions of children’s development into scales for which reliability and validity can be assessed. Children’s grades on report cards are the most common type of teacher rating system for older children. In the preschool years, teacher ratings are most commonly used to assess children’s social and emotional development. However, teacher ratings also can be used to assess children’s cognitive and language abilities. Teacher ratings can be specifically related to other types of child assessments including scores on standardized tests or other validated assessment tools, concrete and specific behavioral descriptions (e.g., frequency of participation in group activities, ability to recognize the letters in one’s name), or global assessments of children’s traits (e.g., cooperative, sociable, hard- working). Research shows that teacher ratings can have considerable short- and long-term predictive validity throughout later school years and even into adulthood. 19

Parent Ratings Parent ratings are a way to organize parent perceptions of children’s development into scales for which reliability and validity can be assessed. Soliciting parent ratings is an excellent way for teachers to involve them as partners in the assessment of their children’s performance. The very process of completing scales can inform parents about the kinds of behaviors and milestones that are important in young children’s development. It also encourages parents to observe and listen to their children as they gather the data needed to rate their performance. An example of the use of parent ratings is the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) study, in which parents’ ratings of their children’s abilities and progress were related to measures of classroom quality and child outcomes. 20

Criteria of Reliable and Valid Preschool Assessment

Both the content and administration of measures must respect young children’s developmental characteristics. Otherwise the resulting data will be neither reliable nor valid. Worse, the testing experience may be negative for the child. Further, the knowledge and skills measured in the testing situation must be transferable and applicable to real-world challenges that a child may face at home or at school. Otherwise the information gathered has no practical value. To produce meaningful data and minimize the risk of creating a harmful situation, all assessment tools for preschool-age children, whether formal or informal, should satisfy the following criteria:

1. Assessment should not make children feel anxious or scared. It should not threaten

their self-esteem or make them feel they have failed. Tests should acknowledge what children know–or have the potential to learn–rather than penalizing them for what they do not know. Examiners should be able to respond sensitively to each child’s reactions to the testing situation.

2. Information should be obtained over time. A single encounter, especially if brief,

can produce inaccurate or distorted data. For example, a child may be ill, hungry, or distracted at the moment of testing. The test is then measuring the child’s interest or willingness to respond rather than the child’s knowledge or ability with respect to the question(s) being asked. If time-distributed measurements are not feasible, then testers should note unusual circumstances in the situation (e.g., noise) or child (e.g., fatigue) that could render single-encounter results invalid and should either schedule a re- assessment or discount the results in such cases.

3. An attempt should be made to obtain information on the same content area from

multiple and diverse sources, especially when repeated instances of data gathering are not feasible (e.g., due to time or budgetary constraints). Just as young children have different styles of learning, so they will differentially demonstrate their knowledge and skills under varying modes of assessment. For example, a complete and accurate assessment of language ability may involve standardized tests, classroom observation

and parent ratings. By measuring ability using multiple approaches, an assessment plan is also less likely to be individually or culturally biased.

4. The length of the assessment should be sensitive to young children’s interests and

attention spans. The assessment period should probably not exceed 35-45 minutes. Further, testers should be sensitive to children’s comfort and engagement levels, and take a break or continue the test at another time if the child cannot or does not want to proceed.

5. Testing for purposes of program accountability should employ appropriate sampling

methods whenever feasible. Testing a representative sample of the children who participate in a program avoids the need to test every child. Sampling strategies reduce the overall time spent in testing and minimize the chances for placing undue stress on

children and burden on teachers and classrooms.

Other conditions that contribute to the reliability and validity of measures depend on the type of measure being used. Decisions on where testing should take place, who should administer the assessment, and the types of skills to be evaluated will differ for standardized tests and informal measures. For standardized test scores to be reliable and valid, the following criteria should be met:

1. Standardized tests should contain enough items to allow scores to represent a

diverse range of individual ability. In order to identify and distinguish among children of low, average and high levels of ability, standard scores must be applicable to children at either end of the spectrum and be sensitive to relatively minor differences in skill level.

2. Testing should take place in a controlled environment that at least approximates the

conditions experienced by the population on which the measure was standardized. Most tests need to be administered in a quiet area, relatively free from distraction. If testing is frequently interrupted or if a child’s attention is drawn to other matters, results will not accurately reflect ability. Meeting environmental demands is particularly challenging with school-based assessments since space and privacy are at such a premium in schools.

3. Examiners should be appropriately trained and familiar with testing materials and

procedures. Because standard administration is the goal, examiners must understand the

importance of considerations such as pacing, tone of voice, and establishing positive rapport with the child. Ideally, the examiner will be experienced and comfortable working with young children.

Creating a valid informal assessment for young children is a difficult task that demands unique considerations. It must be meaningful and authentic, evaluate a valid sample of behavior, be based on performance standards that are genuine benchmarks, and have authentic scoring. If

scores on these measures are to resemble natural performance, it is incumbent upon the creators of informal assessment tools to design instruments that accomplish the following:

1. Informal assessments should take place in, or simulate, the natural environment in

which the behavior being evaluated occurs. It should avoid placing the child in an artificial situation. Otherwise, the assessment may measure the child’s response to the setting rather than the child’s ability to perform on the content.

2. The assessor should be knowledgeable regarding both the assessment materials and

the children being assessed. Ideally, the person administering the assessment is a teacher or another adult who interacts regularly with the child, so long as this familiarity does not invalidate the assessment through personal biases. When an outside researcher or evaluator must administer the assessment, it is best if the individual(s) spend time in

the classroom beforehand, becoming a familiar and friendly figure to the children. Assessors who are not familiar with a child should learn what the child’s typical interactions with adults are like.

3. Assessment should measure real knowledge in the context of real activities. In other

words, the assessment activities as well as the setting should not be contrived. They should resemble children’s ordinary activities as closely as possible, for example, discussing a book as an adult reads it. Parent or teacher ratings should evaluate naturally occurring samples of behavior.

4. To the extent possible, assessments should be conducted as a natural part of daily

activities rather than as a time-added or pullout activity. Meeting this criterion helps to satisfy the earlier standards of a familiar place and assessor, especially if the assessment can be administered in the context of a normal part of the daily routine (for example, assessing book knowledge during a regular reading period). In addition, assessment that is integrated into standard routines avoids placing an additional burden on teachers or detracting from children’s instructional time.

Conclusion

Recent years have seen a growing public interest in early childhood education. Along with that support has come the use of “high stakes” assessment to justify the expense and apportion the dollars. With so much at stake–the future of our nation’s children–it is imperative that we proceed correctly. Above all, we must guarantee that assessment reflects our highest educational goals for young children and neither restricts nor distorts the substance of their early learning. This brief sets forth the criteria for a comprehensive and balanced assessment system that meets the need for accountability while respecting the well-being and development of young children. Such a system can include testing, provided it measures applicable knowledge and skills in a safe and child-affirming situation. It can also include informal assessments, provided they too meet psychometric standards of reliability and validity. Developing and implementing a balanced approach to assessment is not an easy or inexpensive

undertaking. But because we value our children and respect those charged with their education, it is an investment worth making.

Policy Recommendations Require that measures included in an assessment be selected by qualified professionals to ensure that they are reliable, valid and appropriate for the children being assessed.

Develop systems of analyses so that test scores are interpreted as part of a broader assessment that may include observations, portfolios, or ratings from teachers and/or parents.

Base policy decisions on an evaluation of data that reflects all aspects of children’s development – cognitive, emotional, social, and physical.

Involve teachers and parents in the assessment process so that children’s behaviors and abilities can be understood in various contexts and so cooperative relationships among families and school staff can be fostered.

Provide training for early childhood teachers and administrators to understand and interpret standardized tests and other measures of learning and development. Emphasize precautions specific to the assessment of young children.

Endnotes:

1 Bredekamp, S., & Rosegrant, T. (Eds.) (1992). Reaching Potentials: Appropriate Curriculum and

Assessment for Young Children. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

2 National Association for the Education of Young Children and National Association of Early Childhood

Specialists in State Departments of Education (2003). Early Childhood Curriculum, Assessment, and

Program Evaluation: Building an Effective, Accountable System in Programs for Children Birth through Age 8. Washington, DC: Authors. Available online at http://www.naeyc.org/resources/position_statements/pscape.asp.

3 Airasian, P. (2002). Assessment in the classroom. New York: McGraw-Hill.

4 Airasian, P. (2002).

5 National Reading Panel. (2000). Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the

scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction.Washington, DC:

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.

6 National Research Council. (2000a). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington, DC:

National Academy Press.; National Research Council. (2000b). Neurons to neighborhoods: The science of early childhood development. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

7 American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council

of Measurement in Education. (1999). Standards for educational and psychological testing.Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

8 National Education Goals Panel. (1998). Principles and recommendations for early childhood assessments. Washington, DC: Author.

9 Meisels, S. (2003). Can Head Start pass the test? Education Week, 22(27), 44 & 29.

10

Hills, T.W. (1992). Reaching potentials through appropriate assessment. In S. Bredekamp & T

Rosegrant (Eds.), Reaching potentials: Appropriate curriculum and assessment for young children (Vol. 1,

pp. 43-63). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

11 McLaughlin, M., & Vogt, M. (1997). Portfolios in teacher education. Newark, Delaware: International

Reading Association.; Paris, S. G., & Ayers, L. R. (1994). Becoming reflective students and teachers with

portfolios and authentic assessment. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

12 Wiggins, G. (1992). Creating tests worth taking. Educational Leadership, 49(8), 26–33.

13 Wolf, D., Bixby, J., Glenn, J., & Gardner, H. (1991). To use their minds well: Investigating new forms

of student assessment. In G. Grant (Ed.), Review of research in education, Vol 17 (pp. 31– 74).Washington D.C.: American Educational Research Association.

14 Arter, J. A., & Spandel, V. (1992). Using portfolios of student work in instruction and assessment.

Educational Measurement Issues and Practice, 36–44.

15 Shaklee, B. D., Barbour, N. E., Ambrose, R., & Hansford, S. J. (1997). Designing and using portfolios.

Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

16 Paris & Ayers (1994).; Paulson, F. L., Paulson, P. R., & Meyer, C. A. (1991).What makes a portfolio a

portfolio? Educational Leadership, 48(5), 60–63.;Wolf, K., & Siu-Runyan, Y. (1996). Portfolio purposes and possibilities. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 40(1), 30–37.; Valencia, S.W. (1990). A portfolio approach to classroom reading assessment: The whys, whats and hows. The Reading Teacher, 43(4), 338–340.

17 Herman, J. L., & Winters, L. (1994). Portfolio research: A slim collection. Educational Leadership,

52(2), 48–55.

18 Graves, D. H., & Sunstein, B. S. (1992). Portfolio portraits. New Hampshire: Heinemann.; Valencia,

S.W. (1990).;Wolf, K. & Siu-Runyan, Y. (1996).

19 Schweinhart, L. J., Barnes, H. V., & Weikart, D. P. (1993). Significant benefits: The High/Scope Perry

Preschool study through age 27. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.

20 Zill, N., Connell, D.,McKey, R. H., O’Brien, R. et al. (2001). Head Start FACES: Longitudinal

Findings on Program Performance, Third Progress Report. Washington, DC: Administration on Children, Youth and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

by Ann S. Epstein, Ph.D., Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Ph.D., Andrea DeBruin-Parecki Ph.D., and Kenneth B. Robin, PsyM. Ann S. Epstein, Ph.D., is Director of the High/Scope Early Childhood Division. Lawrence J. Schweinhart, Ph.D., is President of High/Scope. Andrea DeBruin-Parecki, Ph. D., is Director of the High/Scope Early Childhood Reading Institute. Kenneth B. Robin, Psy.M., is a Research Associate at the National Institute for Early Education Research.

Preschool Assessment: A Guide to Developing a Balanced Approach is issue 7 in a series of briefs, Preschool Policy Matters. This policy brief is a joint publication of the National Institute for Early Education Research and the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. It may be reprinted with permission, provided there are no changes in the content.

For information on other National Institute for Early Education Research publications, visit their website at

http://nieer.org/

B

APPENDIX B

 

REGINA PUBLIC SCHOOL DIVISION

PREKINDERGARTEN RUBRIC

Communication Development

• Listening

• Speaking — Content

• Speaking — Form

• Speaking — Use

Literacy Development

• Reading Skills