The What and Why of Child Assessments

The What and Why of Child Assessments

Want to learn more about child assessments Download The What and Why of Child Assessments Self-Reflection Worksheet.

Child assessments determine how young children are developing across all developmental domains and evaluate their strengths, progress, and needs. It is an ongoing process that fulfills multiple purposes. Trends in assessment data can inform curriculum planning, teaching, and individualizing for each child across the Head Start Early Learning Outcomes Framework. The quality of the assessment data can point to areas where staff need additional training or support when assessing and using assessment tools.

Assessments are an important—and often time-consuming—part of program practice. The Head Start Program Performance Standards require programs to use child assessments, but they don’t require or recommend any specific tools. Early childhood educators are often responsible for choosing, administering, interpreting, and using the results of child assessments. Many report feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with these responsibilities.

Others are frustrated by the limitations of the measures. The Oklahoma University's Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI) recently examined measures currently available to assess very young children, specifically infants and toddlers, noting fewer choices designed for use with children younger than 36 months of age.

There are many successful and innovative approaches to assessment in programs across the country. Understanding the different types of assessment and how to use them to support reflection and planning is key. For example:

Want to learn more about child assessments? Join NHSA's four-part webinar series, starting in January 2022, in collaboration with the University of Oregon and Oklahoma University's ECEI. Sessions one and two will dig into the purpose of child assessments and the different available types. Sessions three and four will cover how to select the best tools for your program and the best ways to use them.

Register for this free series today. Can’t wait until January? Download The What and Why of Child Assessments Self-Reflection Worksheet.

Victoria Jones

Victoria Jones

Victoria Jones is NHSA's senior director of data. Prior to joining NHSA, she was a production coordinator with Sesame Workshop and a graduate fellow with the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care Head Start State Collaboration Office. She earned her Master of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Child Assessments Learning Series 

Want to learn more about child assessments? Join NHSA's four-part webinar series, starting in January 2022.

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