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FAQs on Early Childhood Assessment
- Is assessment required for participation in state funded early childhood programs?
- How do kindergarten school readiness assessments work?
- How much time do kindergarten school readiness assessments take?
- How are school readiness assessments currently used?
- What is the definition of a valid, reliable, and research-based assessment?
- What criteria was used when the kindergarten school readiness assessments were reviewed?
- Can a district create a kindergarten school readiness assessment?
- Do CDE or assessment publishers share personally identifiable information from early childhood assessments with the federal government or other states?
- Does the state require programs to use photos and videos as part of the assessment process?
- Could a child's image be used in CDE's Results Matter video library without the consent of parents?
- Why is assessment a requirement?
- Are districts required to participate in the Colorado Preschool Program?
- How is the assessment information used?
- Does CDE review the documentation we collect?
- Are there any requirements for districts to provide preschool?
- Is it an option for a district to administer assessments only to their preschool students with disabilities (funded through IDEA) and those participating in the Colorado Preschool Program funded slots but not to their other preschool students?
Is assessment required for participation in state-funded early childhood programs?
Yes. Ongoing assessment of child progress in developmental and academic domains is both a standard of practice for teachers in the early childhood field and a specific requirement for districts participating in the Colorado Preschool Program (CPP), publicly funded kindergarten and/or serving preschoolers with disabilities. Districts may choose which assessment best meets their needs from among several assessments approved by the State Board of Education.
As children engage in ongoing classroom learning activities, teachers capture children's acquisition of concepts and skills through observations and determine how they match up to widely held expectations for development. Teachers document learning through notes, quick reference checklists and collection of student work.
Kindergarten school readiness assessments are not direct assessments administered to children. They are tools that teachers use to determine a child's growth and development through informal observations and interactions with their students. Observing and informally documenting children's learning and development is embedded in everyday instructional activities. As such, this part of the assessment takes place on an ongoing basis within the context of the teachers planning activities. Dedicated time is required for teachers to learn the tool and complete the assessment rating for each child. As with any assessment system, in-service training and teacher experience decrease the amount of time needed for implementation.
Results are used to inform individual child learning plans. Teachers use progress data to inform instructional planning and to communicate progress information with parents. Assessment tools contain reports that are available to teachers and administrators. Depending on the tool, reports can either serve as the Individual Readiness Plan or a report card.
In measurement theory, reliability refers to the consistency of a measure. This means that a survey, assessment, or instrument will measure the same construct every time. However, it does not mean that it will accurately measure that construct.
In measurement theory, validity refers to the accuracy of a measure. This means that a survey, assessment, or instrument will measure whatever construct it intends to measure. However, this does not mean that it will accurately measure that construct over time.
It is the combination of reliability and validity working in tandem that makes surveys, instruments, and assessments work. This is because when a survey, assessment, or instrument is both valid and reliable, then one can safely assume that the survey, assessment, or instrument not only accurately measures what it intends to measure (validity), but does so consistently over time (reliability).
“Research-based” means that parts or components of the method or program are based on practices that are proven to be effective through research. This is differentiated from “evidence-based," when the entire program or method has been demonstrated to be effective through research.
View the rubric that CDE used when recommending to the State Board of Education assessments suitable for measuring students. The department was required to consider assessments that were research-based, recognized nationwide as reliable instruments, and suitable for determining the instruction and interventions students need to improve their readiness to succeed in school. Each assessment publisher has conducted its own research studies that they may provide, upon request.
Any assessment created would need to meet the following minimum requirements as established within statute (section 22-7-1004 C.R.S.) and be approved by the Colorado State Board of Education:
- The assessment tool has strong psychometric properties that provide evidence that it is valid and reliable.
- The assessment meets the requirements of the enacting legislation, addressing both developmental as well as academic domains.
- The assessment tool is based on child development and education research.
- The assessment tool is based on principles of authentic assessment.
No. Individual child level data is not shared with the federal government, federal agency, or other states. The accountability reports that CDE is required to produce always show only aggregate outcome information.
No, the use of pictures and videos in observational assessment is optional. This functionality is a convenience for teachers to easily record and store children's work sample to share progress with families and inform planning and instruction. If a program chooses to use these functions of the assessment tools, pictures and videos captured in a child's portfolio are never used for marketing, advertising, or promotional material. Any pictures/videos used for marketing, advertising, or promotional materials that one may see from assessment publishers is independent of those in the online systems, and the assessment publishers obtain permission from families and programs. In addition, photos and videos included in public reports and websites published by CDE are not taken from children's portfolios. Rather, early childhood programs obtain parental waivers for every child in such images and share them directly with CDE.
No. The videos in the Results Matter video library are produced expressly for professional development use with written permission of all involved. Videos are never derived from actual assessment records.
The primary purpose for assessment in early childhood programs is to provide child growth and development information to teachers and families in order to best support the continued learning of children. In addition, CDE has statutory responsibility and authority to collect outcome information from preschool programs that serve children who receive public funds. CDE is required to report annually to the Colorado General Assembly on the effectiveness of the Colorado Preschool Program. The state also must report on program outcomes for children served by preschool special education to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). These reports provide stakeholders with an indication of the effectiveness of the public funding of preschool programs by showing the aggregate outcomes of the children who participate.
No. Participation in the Colorado Preschool Program is voluntary.
Classroom Level Use
Teachers share assessment information with families and collect input from families that helps to inform the assessment. Together, teachers and families use this information to develop an Individual Learning Plan, identifying next steps for each child. District teams use assessment results to make informed decisions about how best to support positive outcomes for children.
Program Level Use
At the program level, administrators use aggregated assessment data to target areas for needed improvement, to make decisions about how to allocate resources such as professional development dollars, and to inform the educator effectiveness process. They also use aggregate data to inform the local school board and the community about the growth children are making in the program and how those children fare throughout their education in the district.
State Level Use
In the Colorado Preschool Program, the state uses aggregated assessment data to prepare the required annual report to the Colorado General Assembly. This report illustrates the annual growth children make in the Colorado Preschool Program and also illustrates how these children fare as they continue their formal education. View the annual reports. The state also studies these statewide summaries in order to identify trends and plan the wise use of state resources.
In general, CDE does not inspect individual pieces of documentation. However, we may periodically inspect documentation reports (i.e., tallies of how much documentation has been collected). Also, local administrators are certainly encouraged to review both components, and they do in many cases.
Yes. Districts are required to provide a preschool program for young children with disabilities. Under Part B of the Individual Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), states are required to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) within the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to students with disabilities ages 3-21.
While districts do not need to participate in the Colorado Preschool Program, districts must comply with all obligations of federal regulations pursuant to IDEA and all state rules pursuant to the Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA). Non-compliance with these requirements could result in loss of IDEA funding and could place the district at risk of losing all federal funding. The district would also be at risk for legal action from parents.
Is it an option for a district to administer assessments only to their preschool students with disabilities (funded through IDEA) and those participating in the Colorado Preschool Program funded slots but not to their other preschool students?
Yes, this is an option. Teachers know which students are in each program, as they are required to develop and implement individualized education plans for students with disabilities and engage in parent involvement activities and individualized learning plans for CPP-funded students.