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The Purpose of Early Childhood Assessment

There are three main purposes for early childhood assessment, each playing a specific role in improving educational quality and supporting long-term achievement for our children.

Assessments Guides Teacher Planning

The purpose of assessment in early childhood is to determine students’ strengths and set goals for instruction. Assessments in early childhood support the ability to provide individualized and “just right” activities for students across areas of development that research has shown are important for later academic learning and life-long success.

For example, a teacher may notice that one of her students has difficulty entering into group activities independently so she plans activities to support his independence in this area.

Assessments Support School and Family Partnerships

Early Childhood assessment helps teachers communicate important milestones in students’ development to families and provides opportunity for teachers and parents to work together to support children as they grow.

For example, a teacher may not observe a child’s ability to identify colors but through a discussion with the parents, the teacher learns that the child identifies colors of fruit at the grocery store. In this way, parents and teachers gain better understanding of what needs to happen in the curriculum or at home to support the child’s learning and growth.

Assessments Provide Information for Evaluating Program Quality and Inform Policy

One of the hallmarks of a quality early childhood program is the practice of continuously monitoring children’s development and responding to learning needs. By evaluating overall group performance, administrators can determine specific areas of program need and identify teacher and staff professional development to improve their ability to support all students.

For example, upon reviewing the math indicators for all of the kindergarten students in a school, the principal realizes that additional teacher training on math-related materials are needed to support math instruction and student learning across all of the kindergarten classrooms in the school.