from the DEC Recommended Practices on Assessment:
Assessment is the process of gathering information to make decisions. Assessment informs intervention and, as a result, is a critical component of services for young children who have or are at risk for developmental delays/disabilities and their families. In early intervention and early childhood special education, assessment is conducted for the purposes of screening, determining eligibility for services, individualized planning, monitoring child progress, and measuring child outcomes.
This checklist includes key practices that are important for using informed clinical reasoning or informed clinical opinion in evaluation and eligibility determination. This checklist can help individuals and team members insure that the evaluation and assessment informs an accurate eligibility determination.
The checklist can be used to develop a plan to promote a formalized and structured process using informed clinical reasoning when the procedure is used for eligibility determination.
It also can be used for a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practice characteristics were part of using the practice when conducting an eligibility determination.
This checklist includes key practices for engaging families throughout the assessment process. Assessment is the process of gathering information to make informed decisions and is a critical component for intervening with young children who are at risk for developmental delays or have delays/disabilities and their families.
Families are important sources of information about what a child can do, likes to do, is interested in, and how well he/she functions throughout the day. This helps practitioners and families focus on child participation, interaction, and independence in everyday activities that are most meaningful and important to the family.
The checklist can be used to develop a plan to improve practitioner’s engagement of families in a child’s assessment process. It also can be used for a self-evaluation to determine whether the different practices were used to engage a family in their child’s assessment.
This checklist includes key characteristics of authentic assessment practices for observing child participation in everyday activities, the real world learning opportunities that occur in the activities, child behavior in the everyday learning opportunities, and the particular learning opportunities that afford a child the richest array of competency-enhancing learning opportunities.
The main focus of authentic assessment practices is identifying the everyday contexts for child learning, the behavior a child will acquire in these settings, and the environmental and interactional/instructional strategies for promoting child competence while engaged in the activities. Authentic assessment links context-specific assessment information to functional intervention practices.
The checklist can be used by a practitioner to develop a plan to conduct an authentic child assessment or to promote a parent or practitioners' understanding and use of this approach to assessment/intervention. It can also be used for a self-evaluation to determine if the key characteristics were used as part of child assessment.
This checklist includes the key characteristics for assessing child strengths and for using child strengths as the building blocks for supporting and promoting child learning and competence. Child strengths include child behavior, skills, abilities, etc. that are used with materials and other persons, and child interests, preferences, etc. that sustain engagement in everyday activities.
The main focus of the checklist is the methods and strategies that can be used to identify a child’s strengths and how strengths can be used as building blocks for engaging a child in everyday activities for promoting child learning and competence in the activities. Child strengths-based assessment practices shift the focus of assessment from what a child cannot do to what a child can do.
The checklist can be used by a practitioner to plan and implement a strengths-based child assessment, or to promote a parent or practitioners’ use of strengths-based assessment practices. It can also be used for a self-evaluation to determine if the key characteristics of strengths-based assessment practices were used with a child.
This video for parents describes an evaluation, types of methods, and the role of the parent.
Video courtesy EI Colorado.
4:59 - 5:11 illustrates how an early intervention provider can explain the critical role that families have in informing the team about their concerns, issues, and priorities related to their child’s development.
Video courtesy Virginia Early Intervention Professional Development Center.
Authentic child assessment practices include methods and strategies for identifying the particular contexts and adult behavior that best promote a child’s participation and learning in everyday activities. The assessment practices involve observing children’s engagement in everyday activities, the learning opportunities that occur in the activities, child strengths and abilities displayed in the activities, and the adult behavior that can support child participation and learning in the activities.
Strengths-based practices involve identifying children’s abilities and interests and using that information to encourage and support child engagement and learning in everyday activities. Strength-based assessment and intervention practices focus on the competencies a child already uses as the building blocks for promoting child engagement, competence expression, and mastery of new competencies in everyday activities.
The building blocks of child learning are child strengths. Strengths include behavior a child uses to interact with people and objects and personal interests that motivate a child to do things that are fun and enjoyable. Children’s behavior include the skills, abilities, and things that they are good at doing. Children’s personal interests include the things they like to do, prefer or choose to do, things that make them smile and laugh, things that excite them, and things that keep them engrossed in play. Strengths-based practices shift the focus of learning from what a child cannot do to what a child can do.
The ways in which a child learns to do things in different everyday activities are amazing to watch. Young children, with help from their parents, learn to “figure out” dressing and undressing, eating with a spoon, drinking from a cup, using words to talk with others, and much, much more. Parents are an important source of information on children’s everyday, real-life behavior and skills. This information is especially important for encouraging young children’s everyday learning.