Early Childhood & Preschool Assessment Procedures

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  • 0:00 Assessment
  • 0:51 Why Assess?
  • 2:09 Assessing Preschoolers
  • 2:50 Assessment Tools & Methods
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Gray

Laura has taught at the secondary and tertiary levels for 20+ years and has a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

Why should very young children be assessed? This lesson will cover the differences between assessing preschoolers vs. elementary-aged children, and different types of assessments that can be used.


Due to all of the high-stakes testing that has gone on in schools in the last 10 to 15 years, some people view assessment negatively. This is probably due to the all-tests-no-learning mentality in some schools as well as student stress. But did you know that every time a parent takes his or her newborn baby to the doctor for a checkup, the doctor does certain assessments to make sure the baby is growing well and thriving? It's the same in education as in health.

In preschool-aged children, assessment is often a necessary thing as it can tell parents and educators a great deal about a child's mental and emotional development. Let's talk about the differences between assessing preschoolers versus school-aged children, and some different types of assessments that have proven over the years to be both reliable and valid.

Why Assess?

Just like it is important to make sure that the newborn baby is growing and thriving, it's also important to be sure that growing children are meeting certain milestones. Educators should be aware that youngsters need to meet certain intellectual and emotional milestones if they are to thrive once they enter school. And that's where assessment comes in. Assessment of a preschool-aged child is usually done for one of two reasons: Either the child doesn't appear to be meeting developmental, intellectual, and emotional milestones, and more information is needed to determine if intervention is needed or preschool teachers want to make sure that their students will be ready to enter kindergarten.

There are many reasons why a young child might not be meeting milestones. One common reason is simply maturity. Girls at this age tend to mature faster than boys do, and boys with 'late' birthdays may not be mature enough to enter kindergarten. This happens more than you would think. Another reason is that sometimes children are emotionally and developmentally 'slower' than their peers. Much of the time, parents will recognize this in their babies or toddlers, but sometimes, it can slip by until a child is three or four years old and children are more regularly exposed to other kids their age. Or perhaps there is some kind of underlying behavioral issue present. Again, often parents don't realize this until they have a chance to compare their children to his or her peers, so it can go unnoticed for several years.

Assessing Preschoolers

While most elementary-aged children can be assessed with either verbal or written tests, the same cannot be said for very young children. The vast majority of preschoolers cannot yet read and write well enough to take a written test, and many cannot adequately verbalize and expound upon what they are being shown. Therefore, early childhood educators have to do things a little bit differently.

Did you know that there are national standards when it comes to preschool development and readiness for school? Both the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Division for Early Childhood (DEC) of the Council for Exceptional Children have published their own sets of standards, and both are widely-used throughout the United States.

Assessment Tools & Methods

In addition, there are number of different assessment methods, including observation, progress monitoring, teacher rating scales, and universal screenings.

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