While a lot of the talk regarding assessments focuses on older students, it’s critical that we accurately assess our early learners too. Assessing early learners helps educators build a strong foundation for success in later years, identify students at risk of falling behind, and intervene in a timely manner. There are many assessment options to choose from, which can make it difficult to determine which ones will best meet your district, school, and classroom needs. One way to ensure a successful implementation of an early childhood assessment is to be prepared with the right questions upfront.
We have identified 13 key questions to ask when evaluating early learning assessment tools. This list will help you think critically about how a new assessment will fit with your schedule and standards – and about how you might use the data. We hope these questions help you make the best decision for your early childhood program.
Assessment purpose and data use
- Does the assessment’s intended purpose match our goals?
- Is it aligned to our standards (e.g. state standards)?
- Does it screen for students at risk?
- Does the resulting data inform instructional next steps?
- Can it measure growth throughout the year and across grades?
Time and resources required
- Can the early childhood assessment be administered with current technology and staff?
- Does it generate results immediately?
- Can our teachers be trained easily?
- Are the content and format of the assessment child-friendly and age-appropriate? Is the assessment engaging and motivating for young learners?
- Is it responsive to a range of student performance levels?
Quality of reports
- Are the results objective?
- Are the reports easy to interpret and use?
- Is ongoing support provided by the assessment vendor – not just technical in nature, but professional learning opportunities?
When choosing early childhood assessment tools, we must prioritize both developmental appropriateness and actionable data. One option that does both is the MAP Suite for early learning — the only solution that addresses the real-world needs of early learners, while still providing educators with key data that supports instruction. With the MAP Suite of early learning assessments, which includes MAP Reading Fluency and MAP Growth, you can engage early learners effectively and use data to support decision-making—whether that’s at the individual student level, or for program and resource planning.
If you’re looking to empower teachers with the best information and understand your early learners’ academic needs, the MAP Suite for early learning is a solution that connects the value of assessments with the unique needs of our youngest learners.