Performance Improvement 2013-2014. How Reliable and Valid are Commonly Used Assessment and Developmental Screening Tools?


This study summarized information on the reliability and validity of assessment and developmental screening instruments most commonly used by Head Start programs for 3-, 4-, and 5 year olds. The 2007 reauthorization of Head Start requires Head Start programs to use child assessments and developmental screeners that are developmentally, linguistically, and culturally appropriate, as well as valid and reliable in the language in which they are used. Yet, few independent reviews have been conducted of the quality of evidence related to reliability, validity, and appropriateness of the most commonly used assessment and screening instruments in early childhood. Moreover, the reviews that do exist rarely address the question of appropriateness and evidence of reliability and validity for particular populations, such as Dual Language Learners or American Indian/Alaskan Native children.

There were many different types of reliability and validity that should be considered when reviewing an assessment and screening instrument. Most of the instruments reviewed had at least some evidence of reliability and validity. However, very few instruments had all of the key types of reliability and validity examined. In particular, few screening instruments have evidence of construct validity, and few assessment instruments had evidence of predictive validity. Likewise, there were major gaps in evidence of the reliability and validity of measures in languages other than English, or when used with Dual Language Learners or American Indian and Alaskan Native children, or children with special needs.

Report Title: Understanding and Choosing Assessments and Developmental Screeners for Young Children Ages 3-5: Profiles of Selected Measures, Final Report,
Agency Sponsor: ACF-OPRE, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation
Federal Contact: Jennifer Brooks, 202-205-8212
Performer: Child Trends
Record ID: 9809 (November 15, 2011)

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"PerformanceImprovement2014.pdf" (pdf, 671.65Kb)

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