Panel Paper: Use of Ongoing Child Assessment to Inform and Individualize Instruction

Saturday, November 9, 2013 : 3:30 PM
Plaza I (Ritz Carlton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Barbara A. Wasik1, Shannon Monahan2, Sally Atkins-Burnett2, Judith Carta3, Lauren Akers2, Kimberly Boller2 and Patricia Del Grosso2, (1)Temple University, (2)Mathematica Policy Research, (3)University of Kansas
Assessment plays a critical role in examining whether early education promotes school readiness. Progress monitoring is a scientifically-based process to assess children in a variety of domains and to use data to inform, evaluate, and modify instruction. Though progress monitoring has been used in K–12 special education for more than two decades (Reschly and Ysseldyke 2002), increased attention is being given to how early childhood teachers use ongoing monitoring of child progress and adjust instructional practices and content to meet the individual strengths, needs, and interests of children. In the past five years, the Office of Head Start has elaborated its vision for child and family outcomes, adding a stronger focus on program and classroom quality in its monitoring system and developing tools to support progress monitoring and use of assessment. Policymakers, practitioners, and researchers advocate investment in data-informed practices for quality teaching and highlight progress monitoring as a priority in the quest for better educational outcomes (Advisory Committee on Head Start Research and Evaluation 2012; Bambrick-Santoyo 2010; Black et al. 2004; Fuchs and Fuchs 2006).

Despite the importance of using assessment to inform instruction and requirements to do so, information on how teachers collect and use assessment data to individualize for children across early education (birth through age 8) is sparse. In 2012, the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE:ACF) initiated the Assessing Early Childhood Teachers’ Use of Child Progress Monitoring to Individualize Teaching Practices project to develop an evidence-based model of ongoing monitoring of child progress for individualizing instruction. Based on an in-depth literature review and the guidance of experts in developing a conceptual model, this paper will discuss evidence of progress monitoring relating to better child, classroom, and program outcomes. In addition, the paper will describe the components of quality needed to implement progress monitoring in early childhood settings and methods for assessing their implementation.

This paper will depict the project’s conceptual model of progress monitoring as a dynamic process in four stages: (1) selection of assessment target and method; (2) implementation of ongoing assessment; (3) interpretation and data-based instructional decision-making; and (4) application of instructional decisions for individual children. Ideally, as teachers use assessments, they develop more expertise in assessing and interpreting data. As teachers modify instruction based on child data, they will learn to differentiate successful strategies from ineffective strategies, resulting in a spiraling of adult learning in which each time the process is repeated the teacher acquires more knowledge and expertise.

Progress monitoring affords the opportunity for teachers, administrators, and policymakers to track the progress of individual children, classrooms, and programs over time as data can be aggregated and examined longitudinally. Ultimately, well implemented progress monitoring approaches may lead to enhancements that improve early childhood program quality and children’s school readiness.

Full Paper: