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Assessments in Early Childhood Education

Assessments in Early Childhood Education

Assessments are effective tools in education, which help educators determine the individual needs of each student. Assessment tests help the teacher understand what a learner knows compared to their peers in the same grade level and inform them of the student’s strengths and weaknesses. Testing students informs the teachers about students in need of special education services and attention, which guide how class activities are integrated. The test scores influence the teacher’s strategies, methods, and practices incorporated in specific classes to address the learning needs of each learner. Most states advocate that early childhood teachers administer different tests, such as kindergarten entry tests. However, federal law advocates that standardized tests should only be administered to students from their third-grade level (Tucker, 2023). Nevertheless, kindergarten assessments aim to improve the quality of early learning programs and to mould students’ skills by focusing on their individual needs.

Initially, kindergarten educators assessed their learners through self-made assessments and observations to report their growth and mastery skills. However, with changes in education programs and technological advancement, assessment in today’s kindergarten education resembles the assessment administered to upper-grade students, challenging the learning process of young children. Some institutions go to the extent of not allowing educators to assess their students, where the scores are used to measure a teacher’s performance and teaching proficiency (Blessing, 2019). The young children are also offered timed assessments, which lack the flexibility for the students to evaluate and understand the concept being addressed. Some students are non-native English speakers, yet they are administered English-only assessment materials, which do not align with their learning needs. The formal assessment rendered to the kindergarten students negatively affects their confidence and self-esteem in their learning environment. Technological advancement also prompts educators to incorporate technology in the assessment process, hindering the reliability of the test scores used to categorize the students in their learning level. The assessments administered in kindergarten are inaccurate and unreliable in evaluating and placing the students in their grade level.

Frameworks Overview and Evaluation

Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) are the primary assessment frameworks employed for kindergarten students to provide information to the teachers and parents related to children’s skills. KEAs show a child’s development and help the educators assess their process in the child’s early grades. KEA is administered within the first month after enrolling a child in kindergarten education. The assessment framework covers multiple aspects of a child’s development, including cognition knowledge, physical well-being, social-emotional development, student’s approach toward learning, and language development (Weisenfeld et al., 2022). The assessment informs parents about a child’s performance and guides teaching instructions incorporated in a particular class. KEAs also evaluate early childhood education readiness.

On the other hand, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) assessment is a framework that focuses on the development of the assessments and the content incorporated in the assessment. The NAEP frameworks provide subject-specific content to evaluate learning in each subject and equip the learners with the thinking skills required to respond to challenges encountered in their learning environment (National Center for Education Statistics, 2023). The students, teachers, and learning institutions provide information that is incorporated in the NAEP assessments to ensure they meet the current educational requirements and help to address the learning needs of individual students. The framework outlines the subject areas that students in specific grade levels should learn, which helps them to respond to NAEP assessments, which evaluate the content standards. The NAEP frameworks guide teachers in integrating improved instructions to help students respond to complex problems based on their grade levels.

Additionally, MAP and DIBELS assessment frameworks are administered to the kindergarteners. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) is an assessment program offered to students three times yearly. MAP guides teachers on effective instructional strategies to incorporate into their teaching practices to accommodate the learning needs of each student. The assessment program tests students’ reading, math, and language proficiency using structured questions that align with students’ responses (Ellett, 2014). The Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) are assessments that test students’ reading skills. DIBELS are also administered three times a year: in the beginning, in the middle, and in the end. DIBELS assessment helps the teacher to evaluate different reading skills, including phonemic awareness, letter-sound recognition, segmentation and blending of words, and reading comprehension (Ellett, 2014).

Framework Advocacy and Defense

Assessment in kindergarten requires a framework that fosters the holistic development of a student and promotes collaboration among different stakeholders in a child’s education. Hence, the Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) is the most significant assessment framework that evaluates numerous developmental skills in a child, including physical, social/emotional, language, cognitive, and approaches to learning. KEAs convey information about a student to the parents and the teachers, influencing the teaching strategies and practices integrated into the learning process. KEAs promote teacher-parent collaboration, which significantly impacts the learning process through the development of effective strategies to address the learning needs of the students and foster a supportive home-school learning environment for learners. KEAs further collect students’ demographic data and living conditions, which helps to understand their background and guides the teachers to incorporate effective interventions that build students’ sense of belonging and identity regardless of their living backgrounds.

KEAs results provide supportive infrastructure on the most effective strategies to implement in the learning process to accommodate the diverse needs exhibited by the students. The assessment results may necessitate the need for regular professional development to equip educators with essential skills and knowledge on how to respond to issues that arise in their teaching practices. Teachers require up-to-date skills and information on the best strategies and techniques for implementing learning objectives. KEA’s results may also advocate for parental engagement in the child’s education. Parents are the initial teachers of their children. Hence, promoting parental participation and contribution in making critical decisions on a child’s education fosters a friendly learning environment for the students. Further, KEAs increase accountability since they offer actionable data, making the teachers accountable for providing effective feedback to address the learning needs of the students.

Culminating Synthesis of Literature

Educators convey contradictive reactions and attitudes toward Kindergarten Entry Assessments. According to Harvey and Ohle (2018), educators demonstrate inconsistencies in the KEAs administration, implementation, and use. The educators do not acknowledge the assessment tools as instrumental in deciding on the instructional strategies to incorporate in their teaching practices. The policymakers have the mandate to ensure that all educators understand the significance and benefits of administering KEAs in their teaching instructions and practices, as well as improving skills development among the students. Learning institutions should offer regular professional training to familiarize their staff with ways of using formative assessments and help them understand how instrumental the assessment results impact their instruction planning. The administrations should engage their staff in making data-driven decisions, which will help them utilize the data collected from the KEAs. Increasing educators’ ability to evaluate and understand KEA data informs them about students who need special education services, influencing their teaching practices. The educators implement differentiated instructional strategies, fostering an inclusive learning environment. KEA results inform the teachers of each student’s strengths and weaknesses, encouraging them to pay more attention to areas where they are facing challenges to improve their performance. KEAs help to evaluate kindergarten readiness for skills development. However, educators’ perceptions of kindergarten readiness are not a challenge to them since they accommodate kindergarteners regardless of prior academic or social-emotional skills developed. Educators believe that KEAs should be informative on their preparedness to develop the children’s skills.

KEA is an effective assessment framework that helps to close the achievement gaps exhibited by children from diverse backgrounds (Little et al., 2020). KEAs should not be used to hinder children’s entry to kindergarten education. Rather, the assessment framework should help institutions close their readiness gaps at the kindergarten entry by investing in and making available the necessary materials and resources needed to address individual learning needs outlined by the KEA data. KEA should also inform educators about effective instruction to be incorporated into early childhood education. Educators acquire valid and reliable information aligning with each student’s learning needs, encouraging them to provide effective learning opportunities to every child to meet their needs. Policymakers should provide training and technical support to the educators who administer KEAs to achieve the anticipated validity and reliability of information generated by the assessments (Ackerman, 2018). The assessment and assessor should utilize KEA data to narrow the achievement gap among the students.

Nevertheless, the effectiveness of KEAs is hampered by assessment-related and teacher-related issues. Educators lack adequate capacity and skills to administer and interpret the results, which impedes the framework’s efficiency and effectiveness. Educators are also subject to timeline pressures due to the need to analyze the data for each student and to provide effective feedback in alignment with the student’s needs. Lack of prior knowledge on data utilization affects the value of the assessment results in directing instructions and teaching strategies. Students with special educational needs and English language learners lack allowances, such as test scheduling, promoting inaccuracy in grading them as their peers who are English proficient and those without special needs. Additionally, the assessments fail to align with the intended purpose and the current curriculum. Hence, this makes KEA ineffective in addressing learners’ needs.

Notably, a well-designed and implemented early childhood assessment program supports holistic child development. KEAs provide insights and guidelines for appropriate practices and instructions, which support equitable and quality learning (Yun et al., 2021). The assessment data contributes to a conducive learning environment for the learners since the educators address each learner’s needs and inform their teaching practice, building a sense of belonging and acceptance. KEAs act as an initial assessment system for kindergarten students, which assesses their developmental skills and knowledge and accounts for their growth in advanced levels. The assessment tool helped educators to understand the skills that the children bring to the classroom as they commence their kindergarten education. KEA results provide teachers with a clear picture of their classroom, which guides them in developing individualized educational plans for each student (Garver, 2020). KEA data further informs parents about their children’s progress and encourages their engagement in the learning process to support children’s academic success.

KEAs served a critical purpose to learning institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The assessment frameworks helped the educators to assess the learning losses incurred following school closure. The assessment informed the teachers about the student’s readiness to learn after breaking from their routines. The KEAs helped to gauge the children’s starting level, which influenced their instruction and teaching practices. Institutions modified the KEAs to help them administer the assessment and cope with the limited time available to cover the curriculum content. KEAs encouraged family engagement in the assessment by taking the children for the assessment programs (Garver, 2020). Further, the institutions trained the educators to help them administer and implement the assessments effectively using remote educational platforms.

Furthermore, KEA data informs educational policy development. Data collected using the assessment provide researchers with research information on early childhood development, which may influence the policies that ensure that children access appropriate care to support their needs and address challenges that hamper access to standard living. KEA data helps educators identify students with special education needs, prompting policymakers to develop laws to support the learning needs of students with disabilities by making supportive technology and resources available in the learning environment. KEA’s design and implementation align with educational policies and create room for continuous improvement. Education changes are rampant; hence, KEA should incorporate the changes that occur over time to improve its effectiveness and meet the intended purpose.


Student assessment is an effective tool for understanding their process in skills and knowledge development. It is recommended that learners across all grades be examined to guide teaching practices and instructions and ensure all learners are at the same level. Kindergarten Entry Assessments are effective assessment frameworks for preschool learners. KEA promotes collaboration between the teacher and parents. Teachers communicate with the parents about their children’s developmental levels, while the parents contribute to the decision-making process on essential aspects that affect a child’s education. Parent-teacher collaboration supports a child’s educational development, fostering a conducive learning atmosphere for the learners. KEA also helps educators to identify students’ strengths and weaknesses, which prompts them to incorporate effective interventions to improve learners’ performance based on identified needs. Further, KEA data informs instructional planning. The assessment results inform the educator on the most appropriate strategies, instructions, and practices to integrate in the classroom to accommodate the learning needs of each learner, fostering an interactive and inclusive learning environment. KEAs also promote holistic child development since the assessment evaluates different development skills, including social-emotional skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and physical development. The children develop effective skills that are essential in their future interactions.

However, despite the KEA being the best assessment framework, the framework is subject to various constraints. KEA provides standardized tests to all students, which is a disadvantage to learners with special educational needs. Also, the assessments are provided in English-only materials, which is a problem for students who are non-native English speakers. Moreover, educators with less skills and knowledge on how to administer and interpret KEA data may lead to invalid and unreliable results, which may negatively influence children’s performance. Educators require regular professional training programs to equip them with effective skills to administer KEA. Training programs also inform the teacher of the significance of the KEA data in informing their teaching practices and instructions to accommodate the learning needs of each learner and help them address their needs.


Ackerman, D. J. (2018). Real-world compromises: Policy and practice impacts of kindergarten entry assessment‐related validity and reliability challenges. ETS Research Report Series, 2018(1), 1-35.

Blessing, A. D. (2019). Assessment in kindergarten: Meeting children where they are. National Association for the Education of Young Children. Retrieved from

Ellett, R. (2014). The use of Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Language Skills (DIBELS) and Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to compare reading proficiency in native English speakers and English language learners (Doctoral dissertation, University of Kansas).

Garver, K. (2020). The “why” behind kindergarten entry assessments. National Institute for Early Education Research, 1-48.

Harvey, H., & Ohle, K. (2018). What’s the purpose? Educators’ perceptions and use of a state-mandated kindergarten entry assessment. Education Policy Analysis Archives26, 142-142.

 Little, M., Cohen-Vogel, L., Sadler, J., & Merrill, B. (2020). Moving kindergarten entry assessments from policy to practice evidence from North Carolina. Early Education and Development31(5), 796-815.

National Center for Education Statistics. (2023). Assessment frameworks. National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved from

Tucker, G. C. (2023). Kindergarten readiness tests: What you need to know. Understood. Retrieved from

Weisenfeld, G. G., Hodges, K., & Garver, K. (2020). Kindergarten entry assessments (KEAs) within a K-2 assessment system. National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).

Yun, C., Melnick, H., & Wechsler, M. (2021). High-Quality Early Childhood Assessment: Learning from States’ Use of Kindergarten Entry Assessments. Learning Policy Institute.


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Often, conceptual frameworks are shown as visual. For this assignment, use Canva to diagram a potential conceptual framework for your topic of interest.

Assessments in Early Childhood Education

Assessments in Early Childhood Education

Use the 5-steps in “How to Develop a Conceptual Framework” to identify key concepts, find literature on these concepts, decide how they relate, and choose an existing conceptual framework or build a new one. Portray this framework in a clearly labelled graphic.

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