RP Products by Topic: Assessment

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.

Assessment Checklists

  • This checklist includes practices that are important for using informed clinical reasoning/opinion for 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 indicators can be used to develop a plan to promote a formalized and structured process using informed clinical reasoning for eligibility determination.

    The checklist rating scale 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 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 indicators can be used to develop a plan to improve practitioner's engagement of families in a child's assessment process. The checklist rating scale 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 provide 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 indicators 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. The checklist rating scale can 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 identifying child strengths and for using child strengths as the building blocks for supporting and promoting child learning and competence. Child strengths include the 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 indicators 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. The checklist rating scale can be used for a self-evaluation to determine if the key characteristics of strengths-based assessment practices were used with a child.

Assessment Illustrations

  • Informed Clinical Reasoning Checklist
    EI Colorado: What is an evaluation?

    This video for parents describes an evaluation, types of methods, and the role of the parent.

    Video courtesy WWW: EI Colorado.

    What Is Early Intervention in Virginia?

    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 WWW: Virginia Early Intervention Professional Development Center.

Assessment Practice Guides for Practitioners

  • Informed clinical reasoning is a process team members use to gather information about a child's developmental functioning in order to make decisions about the child's eligibility for intervention services. The process requires knowledge of both typical and atypical child development and involves gathering information about the child's functioning using interviews with parents and other caregivers, direct observations of the child, and review of results from evaluations and developmental assessment instruments. These elements constitute the foundation for becoming “informed” about a child's developmental abilities and needs in the context of everyday activities or natural environments.

  • Engaging families as partners in their child's assessment includes methods and strategies for gathering information from families and promoting their participation during the assessment. Gathering information from families is critical for identifying a child's strengths and needs and for making informed decisions about the goals and objectives on intervention plans. Practitioners ensure that family members play an important role in their child's assessment when they listen to family members, encourage them to share their knowledge, and clarify their concerns, priorities, and goals for their child.

  • Authentic child assessment practices include methods and strategies for identifying the contextual and adult behavior that 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.

  • Strengths-based assessment practices are used to identify a child's interests and the abilities he or she uses during participation in everyday activities. Multiple sources of information are used to accomplish this important part of an assessment process. Information collected about the things a child likes to do and is able to do provides the foundation for engaging the child in strengths-based everyday learning activities, supporting the child's participation in the activities, and interacting with the child in ways that build on the child's strengths to promote new learning.

Assessment Practice Guides for Families

  • One way to gather information to determine a child's eligibility for intervention services is through an assessment process called “informed clinical reasoning.” An evaluation team, which includes a child's parents and other family members, gathers the information using conversations with people who know the child best, direct observations of the child's engagement in everyday activities, and a review of results from developmental assessment instruments. This information provides the foundation for becoming “informed” about a child's developmental status and for making decisions about the presence of delays in the child's development.

  • The purpose of a child assessment is to gather information for identifying a child’s strengths and challenges in everyday activities, making decisions about a child’s eligibility for intervention services, developing intervention plans, or monitoring child progress. Parents are members of the assessment team and play an important role in identifying the assessment process by providing insights throughout the assessment about a child’s strengths, abilities, interests, and challenges.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Parents learn about their children's strengths by observing their interests and what they do when participating in everyday activities. This practice guide describes several ways you can gather information about the things your child likes to do and is able to do- important information you can use to help your child take part in everyday activities to increase his or her abilities and learn new things.

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Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

  • CB 8040
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8040
  • phone: 919.962.2001
  • fax: 919.966.7463
  • email: ectacenter@unc.edu

ECTA Center is a program of the FPG Child Development Institute of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, funded through cooperative agreement number H326P170001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. Opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the Department of Education's position or policy.

Project Officer: Julia Martin Eile

  • UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
  • IDEAs that Work: Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education