Early Childhood Assessment can be defined as a tool used to collect valuable information pertaining children that are used as guidance by parents and educators in all the decisions they make about their children’s growth and development. Assessment is vital to preschoolers because it helps in identifying what children know or are interested in knowing (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2013). It assists in determining children’s unique needs and select the most conducive and appropriate system of teaching that will adequately meet all the children’s individual needs. Assessment is also crucial to early intervention classrooms because it helps in setting proper policies that address all the critical needs of the children. It also helps early childhood teachers to identify children’s needs, skills, and abilities so that they are in a better position to meet all their needs while still implementing learning activities (Wortham & Hardin, 2015). I chose an Associate-Child Rating Scale (A-CRS) because it has been tested through research and proven to be credible in assessing children’s development. It also received the Lela Rowland Award for its outstanding performance in children development.
The Basics of Early Childhood Assessment
The A-CRS was created by Children’s Institute affiliated with the University of Rochester. It was made in 2010, and anyone can access it online from Children Institute’s website or a 25-package hard copy from the University of Rochester bookstore or Children Institute’s offices in New York at the cost of US$62.50 ((Wortham & Hardin, 2015). The test measures some domains that surround a child’s weakness and strengths while in school. They include child’s participation/initiative in working with others, child’s shy/anxious and withdrawn behaviors, self-confidence and frustration tolerance, and determining a child’s progress among others. The assessment tool is designed to measure children from infancy to the age of eight years, and its grade levels are Prek-6.
Before coming up with the A-CRS, a team of experts researched on the problems that children, families, caregivers and service providers go through while in pre-school institutions. They used current information accessed from the University of Rochester digital library. However, there is ongoing research that is being used to improve the A-CRS program to make a difference in the lives of present children and future (Wortham & Hardin, 2015). The A-CRS contains 20 items and is administered by observing children or by asking them questions as guided by the tool and then grading them according to the guidelines provided by the operators. It can be used on a small group of five to ten children at once of one by one. It is scored according to “Lit Charts Scale”.
Manual Characteristics of A-CRS
While using the A-CRS tool, assessment is done and interpreted at three levels. Parents and caregivers are graded depending on how well they can understand the A-CRS assessment tool and relate it to various activities they can observe in their children (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2013). Children’s results are interpreted using a scale and score is given as per the A-CRS specifications. Training is essential for everyone planning to use the A-CRS because there is a need for one to familiarize him/herself with the various aspects of the tool ranging from how it is used and how to interpret the results after the assessment ((Radecki, et.al, 2011). Information is reported in the form of a score and a questionnaire that had close-ended questions that help the user in arriving at the correct score for a child. Information about the ability of a child to communicate and associate with his or her friends and a comparative study among the children is done to determine if there is any child with special needs. Most of the results obtained at the end of the assessment are easy to interpret because they are based on a scale.
Test Characteristics of A-CRS
The various tests done on A-CRS are normed by comparing the gotten results with the scores performed by skilled personnel on a specific age group or grade level. The results from experts are used as reference standards in different settings (Dahlberg, Moss, & Pence, 2013). The results usually are reliable and robust because the system has eliminated various variables and coefficients while carrying out the test that reduces reproducibility of a process. A-CRS test is a simple technique, and the results are reliable because the few factors used are predetermined by the experts who research on the tool. For purposes of getting reproducible and reliable results, assessors should be trained on how to record and interpret the results.
Personal Experience with A-CRS Assessment Tool
Personally, A-CRS is an efficient tool that can improve the ways parents, and teachers monitor children’s growth. Reading and interpreting the results of the assessment is a simple process which does not require a lot of training. I used the tool once during the academic day of my young brother, and I found out that the tool is user-friendly. In future, I believe I will use the device in my career to assess the strengths and weaknesses of my pupils (Radecki, et.al, 2011). However, I hope that the research team will try to come up with a more automated system to reduce human errors. They should also improve on the grading scale and come up with a more comprehensive results analysis system.
In conclusion, I would like to pose a few questions for future research in the A-CRS tool. Can the research team come up with an improved version of the A-CRS that can be used to assess people with disabilities? Is there a possibility of coming up with an A-CRS tool for people in other fields such as employees or college students? In my opinion, assessment of children in preschool children can be improved if institutions collaborated with parents and conducted regular assessments of their children. Assessment tools should act as secondary options for assessing the growth and development of preschool children. Parents, teachers, and other caregivers who interact with those children should be the primary assessors of the progress and welfare of children.
- Dahlberg, G., Moss, P., & Pence, A. (2013). Beyond quality in early childhood education and care: Languages of evaluation. London, UK: Routledge Publishers.
- Radecki, L., Sand-Loud, N., O’Connor, K. G., Sharp, S., & Olson, L. M. (2011). Trends in the use of standardized tools for developmental screening in early childhood: 2002–2009. Pediatrics Journal, 128(1), 14-19.
- Wortham, S. C., & Hardin, B. J. (2015). Assessment in early childhood education. London, UK: Pearson Publishers Company.