Commonly used assessment and screening instruments february 2004 Prepared for hippy usa by



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COMMONLY USED ASSESSMENT and SCREENING INSTRUMENTS

February 2004


Prepared for HIPPY USA

By

Marsha M. Black, Ph.D.



University of South Florida

Dept. of Child and Family Studies

In collaboration with

Dr. Diane Powell, Ph.D.

University of South Florida

Dept. of Child and Family Studies



Table of Contents
Introduction 1

Assessment of Young Children 2

Issues in Assessing Young Children 3

Quality of Preschool Assessment Instruments 5


Developmental Screening 5
Developmental Domains 6
Measuring School Readiness 7
Statistical and Measurement Concepts 9

Standardized Test 9

Norm-Referenced Tests 9

Criterion-Referenced Tests 10

Full Battery Assessment 10

Locally Constructed Tests 11

Psychometric Properties of Tests 11

Reliability 11

Validity 12
Test Scores 13

Raw Scores 13

Derived Scores 14

Normative Scores 14

Standard Scores 14

Stanine Scores 15

Normal-Curve Equivalent Scores 15

Mental Age Scores 16

Age-Equivalent Scores 16

Grade-Equivalent Scores 16

Percentile Rank 17
Guidelines for Using Individually Administered Tests 17
Selecting an Instrument From the Instrument Document 18
Criteria for Inclusion of Instruments 19


The Assessment and Screening Instruments Document 21
Detailed Descriptions of Instruments 23

Instrument Document 25
Cognitive 25

Boehm Test of Basic Concepts - Preschool Version 25

Bracken Basic Concept Scale (BBCS-R) 25

Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development 26

Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude - Primary Second Edition 27

Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills (K-SEALS) 27

McCarthy Scales of Children=s Abilities (MSCA) 28

Woodcock-Johnson III 28


Communication 29

Comprehensive Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary Test - Second Edition 29

Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test - 2000 Edition 29

Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities - Third Edition 30

Oral and Written Language Scales Listening Comprehension

And Oral Expression (OWLS) 30

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test- III 31

Preschool Language Scale - Third Edition (PLS-3) 31

Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (ROWPVT) 32

Tests of Early Language Development - Third Edition (TELD-III) 32


Social-Emotional 33

Ages & Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional 33

Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) 33

Social Skills Rating System 34

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales 34

Vineland Social-Emotional Early Childhood Scales 35


Developmental Screening 36

Ages & Stages Questionnaire 36

AGS Early Screening Profiles 36

Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test 37

Brigance Screens 38

Denver II 38

Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning - Third Edition

(DIAL-4) 39

Early Screening Inventory-Revised (ESI-R) 39


Parenting Knowledge and Skills 40

The Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2) 40

Parent-Child Relationship Inventory 41

Parenting Stress Index- Third Edition 42


Home Environment 43

Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) 43


Descriptions of Assessment Instruments 44

Cognitive 44

Boehm Test of Basic Concepts - Preschool Version 44

Bracken Basic Concept Scale (BBCS-R) 45

Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development 46

Detroit Test of Learning Aptitude - Primary Second Edition 47

Kaufman Survey of Early Academic and Language Skills (K-SEALS) 48

McCarthy Scales of Children=s Abilities (MSCA) 49

Woodcock-Johnson III 50
Communication 51

Comprehensive Receptive and Expressive Vocabulary Test - Second Edition 51

Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test - 2000 Edition 52

Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities - Third Edition 53

Oral and Written Language Scales Listening Comprehension

And Oral Expression (OWLS) 54

Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test- III 55

Preschool Language Scale - Third Edition (PLS-3) 56

Receptive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test (ROWPVT) 57

Tests of Early Language Development - Third Edition (TELD-III) 58


Social-Emotional 59

Ages & Stages Questionnaire: Social-Emotional 59

Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) 60

Social Skills Rating System 61

Vineland Social-Emotional Early Childhood Scales 62

Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales 63


Developmental Screening 64

Ages & Stages Questionnaire 64

AGS Early Screening Profiles 65

Battelle Developmental Inventory Screening Test 66

Brigance Screens 67

Denver II 68




Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning - Third Edition

(DIAL-3) 69

Early Screening Inventory-Revised (ESI-R) 70
Parenting Knowledge and Skills 71

The Adult-Adolescent Parenting Inventory (AAPI-2) 71

Parent-Child Relationship Inventory 72

Parenting Stress Index- Third Edition 73


Home Environment 74

Home Observation for Measurement of the Environment (HOME) 74


Glossary 75
References 80



HIPPY USA=s commitment to research

Since the HIPPY program model was piloted in the early 1970s, evaluation has been an integral component of the program's development. Studies from around the world have shown how and to what extent the HIPPY program impacts children, parents and whole communities. (Westheimer, 2002)


Data collection and analysis are a crucial part of successful program implementation. This is why each local HIPPY program is required to collect client-specific and service-utilization data through the HIPPY MIS (Management Information System) and program process and implementation data through the HIPPY SAVI (Self-Assessment and Validation Instrument). Analysis of these data helps HIPPY USA (and the local program) determine the quality of program implementation and helps guide the local agency towards improvement.

HIPPY USA is committed to supporting and improving research efforts at the local, state and national levels, both to demonstrate the effectiveness of the HIPPY program and to identify areas in need of further development. The HIPPY Early Learning Goals were developed in April 2003, to assist local programs with evaluation efforts. And, the theme for program year 2003-04 is AResearch: The Measure of Our Success,@ with several technical assistance tools being developed under this theme. The University of South Florida (USF), acting as the Aresearch arm@ for HIPPY USA developed this document, Commonly Used Assessment and Screening Instruments, in direct response to requests from local HIPPY programs.


There are currently many pressures on local HIPPY programs (and other early childhood initiatives) to evaluate the impact their program has on children=s early learning. Many funders, implementing agencies, and other stakeholders specifically require Apre-and post-testing@ of children who participate in HIPPY. Sometimes, they even prescribe which assessment tool to use for this testing activity. HIPPY USA decided to develop this source to help local HIPPY programs make informed decisions about testing, as well as help these programs better communicate with funders and others who are making evaluation requests.
This document does not constitute an endorsement by HIPPY USA or USF, either of the individual tools described here or of this way of testing children in general. Instead, the information provided here should be useful for understanding the strengths, limitations, and appropriate uses of the instruments described. It can also be used to understand issues involved in the assessment and testing of young children in general and to educate stakeholders about these issues so that programs are not forced to use child assessment instruments in inappropriate ways.

r requie



activity. HIPPY USA decided to develop this source to help local HIPPY programs make informed decisions about testing, as well as help these programs better communicate with funders and others who are making evaluation requests.


This document does not constitute an endorsement by HIPPY USA or USF, either of the individual tools described here or of this way of testing children in general. Instead, the information provided here should be useful for understanding the strengths, limitations, and appropriate uses of the instruments described. It can also be used to understand issues involved in the assessment and testing of young children in general and to educate stakeholders about these issues so that programs are not forced to use child assessment instruments in inappropriate ways.


Assessment of Young Children

Numerous rationales exist for assessing young children.


Support learning and instruction
Identify children for additional services
Evaluate programs and monitor trends

Assessment procedures are employed for various reasons including screening, classification/placement, and program planning. Examples include:


1) Individualizing the curriculum to capitalize on a child=s strengths to help address his/her special needs;
2) Screening to identify children needing further assessment to determine the need for health or other special services or supports;

3) Determining eligibility for special education and related services;


4) Planning an intervention program, or monitoring a child=s progress; and
5) Evaluating program effects.
It should be noted that most of the child assessment instruments with good psychometric properties were developed for purposes of assessing and tracking the developmental skills of children for instructional purposes, rather than for program evaluation purposes.



Issues in Assessing Young Children



AYoung children=s inability to read, the episodic nature of their learning, and their stress in unfamiliar settings with unfamiliar people all contribute to the special challenges facing those concerned about the assessment of young children.@

Assessing the State of State Assessments: SERVE


Many early childhood professionals have multiple concerns about the assessment of preschool children including what is being measured, the quality of the measurement tools, the conditions under which children are being assessed, and how the assessment results are being used. Some oppose the wide-spread use of standardized testing of preschool children because they feel the trend toward escalating assessment practices creates unrealistic academic demands for young children, their teachers, and families. It is felt that much of school readiness testing focuses primarily on measuring skills in academic domains with less emphasis on skills in the adaptive and socio-emotional domains.


The assessment process should never focus exclusively on a test score or number.


Tests are a standard for evaluating the extent to which children have learned the basic cognitive, academic, and social skills necessary for functioning successfully in our culture. It is important to remember that a test score represents a sample of behavior in a structured testing situation and should not be viewed as the sole determinant of a child=s current competencies or future achievement. Preschool children=s development is rapid and uneven, and their development is greatly impacted by environmental factors such as the care they have received and the learning environments they have experienced. Test results should always be interpreted in light of a child=s cultural background, primary language, and any handicapping conditions.


Formal testing settings may not capture the full scope and depth of knowledge of what children know and can do.


Assessment of preschool children differs from testing older children because the standardized paper-and-pencil tests used in later grades are not appropriate for young children. Test scores and other performance measures may be adversely affected by temporary states of fatigue, anxiety, or stress. Additionally, test scores depend on a child=s cooperation and motivation. Building and maintaining rapport with children is a continuous process that must be interwoven throughout the testing process. Testing young children is challenging because an examiner must




successfully carry out a multitude of tasks during the testing situation such as establishing rapport, administering the items according to instructions, keeping the materials ready, responding appropriately to the child, precisely recording the child=s responses, keeping the child engaged, and scoring the child=s responses. With practice, many of these procedures become routine, but even the most experienced test administrator must be thoroughly familiar with the test manual.


The content and procedures of young children=s assessments must be different than that used with older children.


Just as all children do not learn in the same ways, some children do not perform well on standardized tests. Performance assessment, also known as authentic assessment, is viewed by many early childhood educators as an alternative approach to using standardized tests in assessing young children. This method of assessment involves collecting information in children=s natural settings while they are engaged in their typical daily activities as opposed to testing children in an artificial, decontextualized setting.

In authentic assessment, a child=s performance can be evaluated as he completes a task or a product resulting from the performance, such as a portfolio. Though authentic assessments can be very useful to an early childhood educator, this approach does have some drawbacks such as the difficulty of obtaining representative samples for all of the content covered during a specific time period.

NAEYC website


Additional information on the established guidelines for assessing young children is available from the website of The National Association for the Education of Young Children: naeyc.org.





Quality of Preschool Assessment Instruments



AThere are no perfect, off-the-shelf, easy-to-do assessments ...@SERVE, 2003

There is tremendous variability in the quality of assessment instruments that are available and used with young children. Early childhood educators and researchers agree that there is no perfect test. Each measure has its strengths and weaknesses. Some instruments lack the technical and psychometric qualities that assure reliable and valid test scores. Others are not appropriate for the diversity of children in a particular community, do not measure all the dimensions of children=s early development and learning, and/or do not measure the full range of abilities in the domains they cover. Despite the limitations of some assessment instruments, there is a sufficient number of psychometrically sound instruments available. The challenge is selecting an instrument that will be most appropriate and useful for a specific purpose.




Developmental Screening

The purpose of developmental screening is to identify children who should be referred for further assessment.



Many preschool and kindergarten programs have mandated formal developmental screenings for all children they serve in order to identify children with developmental delays at an early age. Screening instruments are designed to identify children who should be referred for further assessment to determine the need for special services or supports. Because they are designed for administration to large numbers of children as the first stage in a program of assessment, they contain a limited number of items and can be administered quickly. These few items do not measure the entire range of achievement, and thus these instruments are of limited usefulness in measuring child progress over time.


Developmental screening instruments have limited usefulness for measuring child progress.


Each developmental screening instrument includes instructions on how to interpret raw scores. For some instruments, total raw scores in each domain are compared to pre-established cutoff points. Scores above the cutoff point mean the child is progressing as expected for his/her developmental age. Scores below the cutoff point mean a child may need further diagnostic assessment. If raw scores are compared to cutoff points, the only information the scores provide is the number and percent of children above




and below the cutoff scores at each point in time. Other developmental screening instruments provide instructions for converting raw scores to age-equivalent scores. Converting raw scores to age-equivalent scores for two groups of children provides a comparison of the difference in average age-equivalent scores for the two groups at each point in time. This provides a more meaningful interpretation of raw scores than simply the percentage of children above and below the preestablished cutoff points.




Developmental Domains


Personal-Social Domain

Most developmental screening instruments have items that are clustered within five domains:


Personal-Social Domain - those abilities and characteristics that facilitate children engaging in positive and meaningful social interactions. The behaviors measured include adult interaction, expression of feelings/affect, self-concept, peer interaction, coping, and social role.

Adaptive Domain




Adaptive Domain - self-help skills and task-related skills. Self-help skills are those behaviors that enable the child to become increasingly more independent in daily living skills such as feeding, dressing, and personal toileting needs. Task-related skills involve the child=s ability to pay attention to specific stimuli for increasingly longer periods of time, to assume personal responsibility for his or her actions, and to initiate purposeful activity and follow through appropriately to completion. Behaviors measured include attention, eating, dressing, personal responsibility, and toileting.

Motor Domain




Motor Domain - gross motor development (large muscle movement and control) and fine motor development (hand and finger skills; and hand-eye coordination). Behaviors measured include muscle control, body coordination, locomotion, fine muscle, and perceptual motor.

Communication Domain




Communication Domain - Understanding and using language to communicate for various purposes. Behaviors measured include a child=s reception and expression of information, thoughts, and ideas through verbal and nonverbal means.

Cognitive Domain




Cognitive Domain - skills and abilities that are conceptual in nature. Abilities measured include perceptual discrimination, memory, and reasoning. Tasks include comparison among objects based on physical features (color, shape, size) and properties (weight); sequencing events; putting together parts of a whole; grouping and sorting similar objects and identifying similarities and differences among objects based on common characteristics.


Measuring School Readiness

By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.@ National Education Goals Panel


The National Education Goals Panel identified three components of school readiness: 1) readiness in the child; 2) schools= readiness for children; and 3) family and community supports and services that contribute to children=s readiness.


There are five dimensions of early development and learning considered critical to a child=s readiness for school (the National Education Goals Panel: Kagan, Moore, & Bredekamp, 1995):


  • Health and physical development

  • Emotional well-being and social competence

  • Approaches to learning

  • Language development

  • Cognition and general knowledge

In addition, the NEGP identified three supporting conditions that contribute to preparing a child to enter school: having access to quality preschool programs, parents as children=s first teachers, and appropriate nutrition and health care.



Mandated formal school readiness assessments have become common practice.


Defining and measuring school readiness is important because many states have enacted legislation mandating the measurement of school readiness. Mandated formal assessments for every child entering kindergarten have become the norm in many local school districts. In addition, the determination of program effectiveness for many preschool programs is increasingly being linked to the degree of children=s preparedness to enter school.


There is a lack of consensus among early childhood educators and policymakers regarding the specific definition and measurement of school readiness.


Underscoring the general problem of quality in early childhood assessment is the fact that though a number of assessment instruments exist that claim to measure school readiness and are in substantial use by schools around the country, there is a lack of consensus among early childhood educators and policymakers regarding the specific definition and measurement of school readiness. Some of the instruments marketed as school readiness instruments have limited item selection and subscale development, poor reliability and validity (especially predictive validity), and a lack of rationale for determining cutoff scores. This is particularly true of the self-developed tests that have been created by some states and school districts. Assessment instruments that produce totally inconsistent results over different periods of time, over different samples of questions, or over different raters cannot provide valid information about the performance being measured.


AThe principal difference between readiness tests and achievement tests is temporal..@ Samuel J. Meisels


Children=s readiness has typically been assessed by tests that are variations of achievement tests (Meisels,1998). Tests of critical skill mastery monitor progress in the development of critical skills that have been identified as necessary for school readiness such as receptive language skills, expressive language skills, and reading comprehension. Readiness tests are administered at the outset of the school year and achievement tests are usually given at the end, however, the content of both tests is essentially the same: a measure of skill achievement (Meisels, 1998). School readiness has also been assessed using developmental screening instruments that assess children in a variety of domains such as speech, language, gross and fine motor skills to provide a global index of a child=s developmental status. However, the limitations of these instruments as described in the previous section make their use for this purpose questionable.




Statistical and Measurement Concepts

Standardized tests


A standardized test is a test for which procedures have been developed to ensure consistency in administration and scoring across all testing situations.


The strengths of standardized instruments outweigh their weaknesses.


Standardized tests have several advantages: 1) the items are well written and have been tested for clarity; 2) standard conditions of administration and scoring have been established; and 3) tables of norms are provided. These advantages are offset by some drawbacks. Guessing, response sets (giving the same type of answer to all of items), or random or careless answers can distort the scores. As most standardized tests have a restricted time limit, they may not accurately reflect the characteristics of children who are much slower, more deliberate, or more thoughtful in responding than their peers. Additionally, scores on standardized tests do not reflect the unique experiences of different types of individuals. However, overall, the strengths of standardized instruments outweigh their weaknesses.


Norm-referenced tests


A child=s performance is compared with the performance of a specific group of children.





Norm-referenced tests are designed to provide a measure of performance that is interpretable in terms of an individual=s relative standing in some known group.
Norms are useful because knowing a child=s raw score does not provide information on how other children performed on the same test. In norm-referenced testing, a child=s performance is compared with the performance of a specific group of children. A norm provides an indication of average or typical performance of a specified group. Norm-referenced tests also provide valuable information about a child=s level of functioning in the areas covered by the tests - information that would be unavailable to even the most skilled observer who did not use tests. They also provide an index for evaluating change in many different aspects of the child such as developmental growth and the effects of an intervention. However, a limitation of norm-referenced tests is that they provide only limited information about the ways children learn.

Criterion-referenced tests




Criterion-referenced tests are designed to provide a measure of performance that is interpretable in terms of a clearly defined and delimited domain of learning tasks.

Criterion-referenced measures are used to describe a child=s performance with respect to an established standard.


While norm-referenced testing is used to evaluate a child=s performance in relation to the performance of other children on the same measure, criterion-referenced measures are used to describe a child=s performance with respect to an established standard; it measures level of mastery.


There are two subtypes of criterion-referenced measurement: domain-referenced measurement involves selection of a random sample of items drawn from an item pool that is representative of all possible test items for a well-defined content area. The second is objective-referenced measurement sometimes referred to as curriculum-based measurement that provides information on how well the student performs on items measuring attainment of specific instructional objectives.


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