Assessments are snapshots of a child's current ability to perform a certain skill. This can show normal development, regression or advancement in the different areas. It can also identify areas of concern or where additional support may be needed.
Providers see children for many hours every day, can compare them to current and former students, and see them in a variety of motor, cognitive and emotional/social situations. Often providers are the first to notice a potential developmental issue. Assessments give an additional, unbiased, tool in determining developmental growth.
Parents are often resistant to being told that there may be something wrong with their child, even if they feel in their gut that this is true. Please seek assistance in presenting concerns to them, and do so delicately and factually, without opinion or unprofessional diagnosis.
If not trained, then please do not rely on any informal assessment as an indicator of developmental concern. If you feel there is some indication that a child is delayed, then please provide the parents specific things you have observed and assessment results, and encourage them to ask their pediatrician and/or to take their child for professional assessment.
In the United States, developmental screenings are free through the school districts and if concerns are found, resources are made available for professional interventions.
These are the types of assessments I utilize and have included below:
- Developmental Profiles
- Journal Assessment
- Preschool Skill Assessment
- Reading Assessments
- Multiple Intelligence Assessment
- Giftedness Assessment
- Autism Assessment
- Learning Styles Assessment
- Personality Assessment
HOWEVER, please keep in mind that every child is different, develops at a different rate, and has personality traits that drastically impact each one's progress. Additionally, children often take two steps forward, one step back, a cha-cha to the left, and a polka to the right as they meander or zip or leap along the path of development. That path, though, is linear. All children follow a very prescribed path of development. Only their steps along it vary.
Note as well, that a child's brain focuses on EITHER motor skills or language skills at any given time, and not both at once. For most children, it switches between the two skill sets regularly, so that their motor and language skills stay in relative sinc as they mature. Some children, though, may be so focused on one or the other that they become exceptional at motor skills and seem delayed in language, OR they become exceptional in language and seem delayed in motor skills.
When the brain is focusing on one area or the other, a child may seem to LOSE some of the other set of skills. For instance, they can stop speaking as well or as often when learning a new motor skill. Or, they can seem to become clumsy as they focus on new language skills. This is normal. As long as a child is noticeably progressing in one area or the other, there is usually no reason for concern in the pre-school years.
Developmental profiles specify the type of development that is usually observed in an average child at a specific age in the areas of motor, cognitive, language and social/emotional growth.
As I said, development is linear. Children normally progress at a very steady pace along the developmental path. That progress can be assessed through developmental profiles/checklists.
Mine are set up for 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 year evaluations. Since mine are a compilation taken directly from three texts, I can not publish them. However, there are others out there available for your use.
While mine are much more in-depth than this one from Syracuse University, I think it is a WONDERFUL one for providers to use, especially since it is based in part upon ASQ and is relatively short and easy to complete.
If you would like to explore the subject more, and create more in-depth assessments like mine, this is the book that I own and would HIGHLY recommend. It is pricey, but you may be able to get your local library to purchase it for you to borrow.
My current pre-k students are 4-5 years old and are working at a 2nd grade level. I've been able to track that advanced progress since they arrived as babies, noting skills they may be accomplishing one to two years ahead.
For instance, little Miss H just turned 3, but has been swinging independently on a swing for over 6 months. That is a developmental checklist item for age 5. By having all the developmental profiles/checklists, I can mark off that skill and the date at which I first observed it and the date when I viewed it as mastered.
Unlike the developmental profiles/checklists that you can use at any time and track progression over the years, the Ages & Stages Questionnaires are very simple, accurate professional assessment tools conducted at very specific ages.
ASQ certification is being offered to child care providers through a very short training session. This is one of the assessments most often performed through the school districts and is offered by some pediatricians.
Even if you aren't trained, this one is pretty idiot-proof, and this link has them all, 2 months through 5 years, broken down by 2 month intervals through age 2 and pacing farther out through age 5. It also includes a listing of intervention activities. It's a good one for the parents as well. Some states mandate that the ASQ be conducted by child care professionals on the children in their care. I can see this being expanded to other states.
Scheduled journaling provides a snapshot of a child's fine motor and cognitive advancement.
We journal every Monday starting as soon as they can hold a crayon and not eat all of it. They draw a picture and when done, I ask them to tell me about it and journal their response at the bottom. Above my desk I keep these two assessment matrices for reference.
From Susan Donley:
This topic was covered thoroughly in my writing post, so you can get more information there.
For assessment purposes, though, I am looking for leaps in development as they start including in their drawings lines, circles, shapes, letters, recognizable figures, recognizable scenery, signage, notes, etc. and assessing whether their progress is in line with development for their age.
My initial preschool assessment was based upon the first one my son had received from kindergarten. Since my goal was to have my students kindergarten ready when they graduated pre-k, I felt that was a good starting point.
Since then, it has been DRASTICALLY overhauled, since I teach a lot of skills that were not on it. Even now, I am tweaking it to add even more skills that these children are accomplishing that previous students have not. It is always a work in progress. The Progress Report, cutting assessment sheets, and all master assessment sheets are available for FREE via my TPT Store.
On the back side, I have the children draw a self portrait and write their names. On the side, I note the physical features they point out. The goal is to have a self-portrait with at least 5 identifiable features before kindergarten. At the bottom, I have room to make notes.
I also do 2 cutting assessments.
The second one, is a cut and paste activity. On this one, in addition to the cutting, I am assessing their placement choice in how they utilize the space given on the assessment sheet.
To do these preschool assessments, I have master assessment sheets that I have in a binder, such as this one for identification of numbers 1-20.
We do these over several days, and I always ask if they WANT to do them and let them choose which area they want to do. Between subjects, I ask if they wish to continue. I make it pretty fun, and they like to show off what they know. If they get them all correct for two assessments in a row, I consider the item mastered and will not assess it again.
On the Progress Report form is a place for how many of the 120 graphemes the child knows I did not include a list. If you know what it is, then you probably don't need one, and if you don't, then you probably need to read up on it some. Debbie Hepplewhite has a good listing of the 44 phenomes and 120 graphemes to reference. Most of these are covered in the Now I'm Reading! series that we use. She also has some wonderful teaching resources at her website Phonics International.
Additional information is included with the file. It is a Word file, so you will need that program to open.
I use the emergent reading program I Can Read! by Nora Gaydos and am aware of where the children are at any given time while doing this program. Once completed, they move on to more advanced readers. While Grade Level Equivalent and Lexile scores of the books they read can give some indication of a child's reading level, often at the preschool level they simply prefer books with more pictures, or books of a certain genre, or to not push themselves. So, their actual reading level can be masked.
The reading program All About Reading just happens to have FREE reading assessments for each of their levels, pre-reader through level 4. I just tested one of my pre-k students by having her read all of the bold words and phrases in a particular assessment and checking the other criteria against what I have observed her knowing. It was a very good tool.
The assessments are about half way down the page.
Sonlight curriculum also has a good reading assessment. It is a single assessment that builds in complexity until the child reveals their level.
There are two reading assessments available on A2Zhomeschooling.com. One is the San Diego Quick Reading Assessment Test. These tests are simple read throughs until the child gets stuck, and that shows their level.
KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENT
If you are simply wondering if a child has all the components in place to be successful in kindergarten, there are many checklists available for this assessment. This one from Education.com seems to be pretty inclusive.
Just Google "kindergarten readiness checklist" for a ton more options.
MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENT
All children have different strengths and weaknesses. Laura Candler has a FREE multiple intelligences assessment available at her TPT store. I used this on my son and it was nice to have my suspicions confirmed. It's easy to use.
Mrs. Hugh's Place also has several downloadable pdf files on multiple intelligence.
It is often not possible to assess for giftedness in the preschool years and most school districts will not do so until at least half way through first grade.
Usually giftedness shows itself through speaking and reading at a very young age in comparison to the norm. However, this chart gives some other good indicators as to whether a child may be gifted.
Here's an on-line quiz that asks questions about 2 year-olds to determine potential giftedness.
There is also a post on this site where I discuss the differences I see in normal vs. advanced vs. gifted preschoolers.
Early signs of autism can often be detected in infants as young as 6-18 months. For example, if a baby fixates on objects or does not respond to people, he or she may be exhibiting early signs of an autism spectrum disorder.
Older babies and toddlers may fail to respond to their names, avoid eye contact, lack joint attention (sharing an experience of observing an object or event by gazing or pointing), or engage in repetitive movements such as rocking or arm flapping. They may play with toys in unusual ways, like lining them up or focusing on parts of toys rather than the whole.An early assessment tool that can be used as early as 6 months is the head lag assessment. The link includes information and a video of how it is done. While this is not at all something that I would discuss with parents or use as a basis to form a strong opinion, in doing this at 6 months, I can see if there is an issue with motor control, work with that, and if it doesn't correct, then I keep in the back of my mind that this could be a potential issue.
Many providers wonder if a child is showing signs of potentially having autism. Again, most parents do NOT want to hear that there may be something wrong with their child. This is more to make sure that YOU are possibly on the right track and can begin to make note to the parents of specific, observable behavior that may indicate an issue. This is the full FREE Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers.
This is a fairly comprehensive questionnaire, by Dr. Amen on his site Soul Healers, that determines the 7 types of ADD/ADHD a person can have. The questions are relevant for children to adults.
LEARNING STYLE ASSESSMENT
While I try to incorporate ALL learning styles into my teaching, if I feel that I'm just not reaching a particular student, I will do a learning style assessment to ensure that my methods are appropriate for that child, or if I need to tweak my teaching to better address that particular child's learning. This one is from Scholastic for ages 3-5 years old.
I LOVE this Harkey-Jourgensen Early Childhood Temperament Sorter for ages 4-8 personality assessment by Parenting by Temperament. I think every time I've done it, it has come out spot on for the child. It uses the same types as the Myer's Briggs Personality Type that is usually given in corporations. It just gives an additional insight into a child's temperament and the website is excellent for guiding you when your personality may not be the best match for the child in your care, and how to handle issues that may arise.
It is also good for parents who may have a personality type drastically different from their child. They can see that their child is different, not JUST acting up.
There is also a teen and adult version, also FREE.
Phonological Awareness has games to teach specific sounds.
Reading Rockets has excellent information on how to read so children will learn.
The Child Whisperer 4 personality types of children.