What Does it Mean to use Ongoing Assessment to Individualize Instruction in Early Childhood?

What Does it Mean to use Ongoing Assessment to Individualize Instruction in Early Childhood?

Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Ongoing Child Assessment to Individualize Instruction, OPRE Brief #2015-61
Published: Jun 30, 2015
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Associated Project

Using Progress Monitoring in Early Childhood Education: Assessing Methods and Developing an Evidence-Based Model

Time frame: 2012-2016

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation


Sally Atkins-Burnett

Judith Carta

Barbara A. Wasik

Kimberly Boller

Key Findings

Key Findings:

  • Practitioners can use the conceptual framework to improve current ongoing assessment efforts, and researchers may find the framework useful for measuring this process. The conceptual framework for using curriculum-embedded approaches to track children’s progress and individualize instruction is a repeating cycle with four stages: (1) selecting what to assess (the assessment target) and how (the assessment method); (2) implementing the assessment; (3) interpreting the assessment data, including setting hypotheses about why the child was or was not successful, and making instructional decisions; and (4) applying instructional decisions.

Using ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction is considered a best practice in early childhood education and is a requirement in the Head Start Performance Standards.  Teachers who use ongoing assessment to individualize instruction may reduce the school readiness gap for children at risk, deliver more effective instruction, and have students who achieve better outcomes.  Practitioners, researchers, and policymakers are paying closer attention to how early childhood education teachers use ongoing child assessments to track children’s progress and tailor instruction to each child’s unique strengths, needs, and interests. This brief presents a conceptual framework for curriculum-embedded approaches to ongoing child assessment. The conceptual framework shows how teachers can use ongoing assessment for individualization.

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