6. Understanding Emergent Literacy Assessment Practices

With Sehyun Yun

“Early childhood assessment should guide teachers to provide the best educational opportunities for children and, ultimately, benefit the child.”

Piker & Jewkes, 2013

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Becoming Assessment Literate

6.3 Understanding Diverse Literacy Assessment Practices

6.4 Assessment Strategies and Tools


Opening Vignette: Mr. Costello’s Reflection

Mr. Costello’s most recent set of observational notes were collected after reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin & Archambault, 1989). A checklist Mr. Costello completed during a brief four-minute observational moment shows Isabella identified 10 lower case letters while playing with a friend at the water table. On this particular day, the water table materials encouraged children to float foam letters from the “shore” to “coconut island” for a letter parade. Mr. Costello smiles as he rereads the mini-note he attached to the checklist capturing how Isabella played with the lower case /b/ flipping it around and saying, “Look, I’m a B… Look, I’m a P…Look, I’m a B…” in a sing-songy voice as she danced the letter across the water. He knows this playful moment demonstrates a great deal about Isabella’s alphabetic knowledge and shows a strength in her abilities to manipulate and recognize letters.

Educators use a variety of assessment tools and practices, like the observational assessment Mr. Costello reviews in the opening vignette, to gain insight into children’s emergent literacy knowledge. Mr. Costello will keep his observational note, along with the other pieces of assessment data he gathers over time, to develop a holistic picture of Isabella’s emerging literacy skills. He knows when a single data point is combined with additional pieces of assessment information a more complete understanding of a child’s literacy knowledge begins to emerge. Children’s work samples, data from standardized assessments, and documentation from other observational assessments collectively inform his understanding of Isabella’s literacy enactments. By strategically combining formal and informal assessment sources to demonstrate what young children know, Mr. Costello embraces a strengths-based assessment approach and intentionally positions children like Isabella as active literacy agents ready to communicate, learn, and engage as readers and writers in the world.

6.1 Introduction

Early childhood educators play an essential role in ascertaining how young children are developing nuanced understandings of emergent literacy skills. Embracing assessment as an ongoing and recursive practice supports educators’ efforts communicating children’s progress in meaningful ways. Strong assessment practices help engage diverse stakeholders including families, administrators, accreditation agencies, and children. Moreover, assessment data guides the instructional decisions educators make on a daily basis to enhance and promote young children’s rapidly evolving literacy skills and understandings. Accordingly, learning how to use diverse sets of assessment tools and interpret data to gain insight into young children’s evolving agency as readers, writers, and communicators is a critical part of an early educator’s professional practice. This chapter prepares educators to develop, implement, and interpret a variety of literacy assessment tools to document and enhance children’s emerging literacies.

This chapter will explore the following questions:

Bird from the nested literacy model, Figure 1.1 How does becoming assessment literate allow educators to see, support, and document children’s emerging literacy skills?

Branch from the Nested Literacy Model Figure 1.1 What kinds of assessment tools do educators use to gain insight into young children’s emerging literacy skills?

Branch from the Nested Literacy Model Figure 1.1 How do early educators integrate a variety of assessment practices into their curricular routines to document children’s emerging literacy skills?

Bird from the nested literacy model, Figure 1.16.2 Becoming Assessment Literate

Our text focuses on examining a comprehensive collection of literacy practices and strategies to ensure early educators are well prepared to nurture young children’s emerging literacies. Determining how to facilitate literacy experiences to meet individual children’s needs and interests relies on an educator’s knowledge, use, interpretation, and integration of a variety of assessment data points. To effectively engage children in rich language, reading, and writing experiences educators must become assessment literate. Assessment literate educators possess a strong understanding of a variety of assessment practices and know how to interpret assessment results to inform their decisions about curricular experiences for learners (Popham, 2011). Because assessment results influence learning opportunities for children, it is important for educators to develop intentional and ongoing assessment practices and routines that illuminate children’s literacy learnings. Assessments are designed to meet specific purposes and provide evidence of a child’s knowledge or skill at a particular moment in time. However, children’s emergent literacy knowledge involves the integration of complex language-based practices and it is unlikely a single assessment tool will provide all of the data necessary to make fully informed decisions. Therefore, knowing that all assessments have limitations, early educators need to develop a robust understanding of how, when, and why they use specific assessment tools to inform their work with children and families.

Educators and early education programs frequently use a variety of assessment measurement tools including standardized assessments, performance assessments, curriculum-based assessments, and observation-based assessments (Piker & Jewkes, 2013). Learning how to leverage diverse assessment tools to meet different purposes is an important aspect of an educator’s work with young learners and families. Becoming assessment literate empowers educators to critically analyze assessment data for biases, inherent in all assessments, that may under-represent a child’s emergent literacy knowledge. Accurate and full documentation of a child’s understanding is not only essential for designing curricular experiences for learners, but assessment results also influence the types of interventions or additional special education services children and families receive (McLean et al., 2020). Therefore, knowing how to use diverse sets of data to discuss a child’s emerging skills strengthens educators’ efforts advocating for children and families (Mindes & Jung, 2018).

Purposes for Assessment

  • Educators use assessments to understand learning and development and to guide instructional decisions
  • Assessments help educators identify children who might benefit from receiving additional intervention services
  • Educators use assessment data to evaluate program practices and processes for areas of continued improvement and professional growth (Kidd et al., 2019; National Research Council, 2008).


An early childhood educator is working at her desk.
Educators use technology to monitor children’s development and make programmatic decisions.

Understanding how to use numerous assessment tools to advocate for children and families and guide young learners is emphasized by professional organizations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the Division of Early Childhood (DEC). Both organizations encourage early childhood educators to use data strategically to enhance young children’s learning experiences. These organizations also maintain assessments for young children must be developmentally appropriate and advance the use of observational assessment practices to capture children’s literacy performances within their natural environments (McLean et al., 2020, NAEYC & NAECS/SDE, 2003).

Fortunately, children’s literacy performances are readily observable across a child’s day as children talk, interact with text, and create their own drawings and writings to express their ideas. Knowing how to structure a child’s environment to elicit literacy rich interactions will make documenting children’s literacy enactments easier. Similarly, learning how to identify components of children’s literacy enactments and capture evidence of their emerging literacy skills as they play will enhance your savvy as an early childhood literacy educator. As you learn to see, document, and interpret children’s emerging literacies you will develop a repertoire of assessment and instructional practices that will inform your work facilitating literacy experiences for young children.

Branch from the Nested Literacy Model Figure 1.16.3 Understanding Diverse Literacy Assessment Practices

Young children enter classrooms with diverse backgrounds and literacy skills. Children’s daily emergent literacy expressions reveal what they know and understand about language, reading, and writing work. Interactions between language, reading, and writing are reciprocal and literacy enrichment in one arena bolsters knowledge and growth in another. Language development serves as a cornerstone for children’s acquisition of reading and writing. The integral nature of language, reading, and writing develops throughout infancy, toddlerhood, and the early childhood years. Intentional early childhood educators use varied assessment tools and data sources to gain comprehensive understandings of children’s cognitive literacy development across the domains of language, reading, and writing. Accordingly, literacy assessment is an important part of early educators’ mission to provide high-quality early literacy education for young children.

6.3a Formal Assessment Practices

Early educators use a variety of assessment tools to capture and analyze children’s literacy development and learning. Assessments, by design, are broadly identified as either formal (standardized) or informal. In early childhood education, formal assessments are used for various purposes including screening, diagnostic, readiness tests, and program evaluation (Kidd et al., 2019). Formal assessments use standardized instruments and processes that are administered, scored, and interpreted in the same way for all children (Shepard et al., 1998). This section examines the types of formal assessments and how and when we will use them to support children’s literacy learning.

6.3a1 Types of formal assessments. Formal standardized assessment results are translated into either norm-referenced scores or criterion-referenced scores. Norm-referenced scores allow educators to compare a child’s performance on specific skills to the performances of other children within their peer group. Age-based standard scores, age equivalent scores, and/or percentile ranks are frequently used to communicate norm-referenced assessment results. Norm-referenced assessments may be used to determine eligibility for early childhood special education services, however “norm-referenced tools should be used with caution, as the accuracy and predictive value of these tools may be compromised when used with young children” (Ohio Department of Education, 2010, p. 9).

Alternatively, criterion-referenced scores communicate how well a child performs against a set of predetermined standards or criteria. Criterion-referenced assessments use numerical scores to represent the degree to which a child has mastered specific content knowledge or gained proficiency with a set of skills. Both norm-referenced data and criterion-referenced data help educators understand what a child knows and understands at a given moment in time by either comparing a child’s performance to the performance of other children in their peer group or analyzing the child’s performance against specific criteria or developmental benchmarks (Brown & Rolfe, 2005). Table 6.1 presents a set of common criterion-referenced and norm-referenced assessments educators use to gain insight into children’s emergent literacy practices. The table highlights the specific literacy components evaluated by each assessment.

Table 6.1 Common Criterion and Norm-Referenced Assessments

Common Criterion and Norm-Referenced Assessments

Assessment Tool Description Literacy Domains and Indicators Norm or Criterion- Referenced
Ages & Stages Questionnaires, Third Edition (ASQ-3)


ASQ-3 is a developmental screening tool designed for use with children between the ages of one month to 5 ½ years. It is a great assessment tool to partner with parents, making the most of their expert knowledge. Questionnaires are available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
  • Communication Development
Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System for Infants and Children (AEPS)


AEPS is an authentic assessment that combines educator observations of children in natural play-based contexts with family interviews to evaluate and monitor children’s developmental progressions. Appropriate for all children ages birth through 6 years.

APES may be used to determine eligibility for additional services.

  • Major Areas
  • Fine Motor
  • Gross Motor
  • Cognitive
  • Adaptive
  • Social-Communication
  • Social
  • Pre-academic
  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Pre-writing
Battelle Developmental Inventory – Third Edition (BDI-3)


A play-based diagnostic assessment for children birth through age 7 years, 11 months. A supplementary assessment, the Battelle Early Academic Survey (BEAS) is for children 3 years 6 months – 7 years 11 months and offers additional assessments in literacy and mathematics.
  • Communication (BDI-3)
  • Receptive
  • Expressive
  • Articulation
  • Literacy (BEAS)
  • Listening Comprehension
  • Fluency
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Print Concepts
  • Phonics and Word Recognition
Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Early Development


The Brigance is a developmental screener for children birth through age 7. The assessment uses observations, performances, and interviews.
  • Language Development
  • Expressive
  • Receptive
  • Academic/Cognitive Development
  • Literacy
Norm-referenced and Criterion-referenced inventories
Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning, Fourth Edition (DIAL-4)


DIAL-4 is a global screener. For children ages 2 years 6 months to 5 years 11 months.
  • Language
  • Expressive
  • Receptive
  • Phonological Awareness
Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS-PreK)*


PALS-PreK is an early literacy screening assessment designed to demonstrate children’s strengths and areas where children may benefit from more intentional support.
  • Name writing
  • Alphabet Knowledge
  • Beginning Sound Awareness
  • Print and Word Awareness
  • Rhyme Awareness
  • Nursery Rhyme Awareness
Teaching Strategies GOLD


TS GOLD is an observation-based assessment system for children from birth through kindergarten. It blends ongoing observational assessment for all areas of developmental domains and academic skills (literacy and numeracy). It is designed to document children’s learning over time, inform instruction, and facilitate communication with stakeholders, but not for screening or diagnostic purposes.
  • Language
  • Literacy
Transdisciplinary-Based Play Assessment, Second Edition (TPBA2)


TPBA2 is a diagnostic and progress monitoring play-based assessment to evaluate a child’s development and provide intervention for children from birth to age 6. It is designed to evaluate four key developmental domains (sensorimotor, emotional and social, communication and language, and cognition).
  • Communication Development
  • Language Comprehension
  • Language Production
  • Pragmatics
  • Articulation
  • Phonology
  • Voice and Fluency
  • Oral Mechanism

6.3b2 Purposes for formal assessments. There are a number of reasons early educators integrate formal assessments into early childhood contexts. This section examines four purposes of formal assessment. Each of these approaches to assessment provides us a window into young children’s literacy development. Often the formal assessments used in early childhood spaces are selected by programs to align with national, state, or local requirements. Therefore, it is important for educators to understand the purposes of these selected instruments and how the data collected can be used. Figure 6.1 illustrates how assessment purposes and processes are mutually informative and fluid in nature.

Figure 6.1 Connection Between Assessment Purposes and Processes

Graphic begins at the top with Screening and Readiness above a curved line that leads to a circle in the middle where a curved line starting from the bottom meets the curved line starting from the top. Diagnostic is written where the two curved lines meet. Progress Monitoring is written under the bottom curved line.

Screening and readiness assessments are used in early childhood contexts to determine if a child needs further specialized evaluations or instructional interventions to ensure the child continues to thrive across developmental domains. These assessments seek to identify children who may benefit from additional intervention services designed to support a child’s cognitive, oral-linguistic, social-emotional, or physical development. Screening assessments are designed to be implemented and evaluated quickly to determine if follow-up interventions are required to support a child’s development. Consider the Apgar test performed on infants immediately after birth at the 1-minute and 5-minute mark. Focused on determining the child’s physical wellbeing, the Apgar monitors a child’s breathing, heart rate, muscle tone, skin color, and reflex irritability (Simon et al., 2021). If the child receives a low score on the scale, health care professionals will administer the necessary interventions to ensure a child thrives outside of the womb. Within school contexts, physical screening tools may be used to evaluate a child’s hearing or vision, and if their performance on the screening tools indicate areas of concern, the child will be referred for further evaluation by appropriate care providers. Screening assessments are frequently administered to all students at the beginning of the school year in order to find students who need intervention as early as possible.

Figure 6.2 Screening and Readiness

Box says Screening/Readiness at the top. First bullet says, Easily implemented to see if children are meeting essential milestone expectations. Second bullet says, Readiness assessments reveal what a child already knows about a set of precursory skills related to the specific domain. Third bullet says, Typically educators administer screeners to all children.

Readiness assessments seek to reveal what a child already knows about a set of precursory skills related to a specific domain. Intentional educators use children’s performances on readiness assessments to structure curricular opportunities for learners based on concepts a child is still acquiring and to build on knowledge the child already possesses. Readiness assessments should only be used to gain insight into what a child already knows and is ready to learn; they should not be used to perpetuate deficit perspectives that emphasize what a child cannot do which, by default, implies that a child is not ready. Simply put, although children may demonstrate different degrees of understandings at any given moment in time, all children are ready to learn. Unfortunately, school systems sometimes use readiness assessments as predictive measures to group or track children into specific instructional programs or ability-based classrooms. While it makes sense to reflect on data gained through readiness assessments in strategic ways, educators and school systems should not use this information to make broad generalizations about a child’s overall capabilities and should avoid using readiness data to make decisions or recommendations that limit children’s curricular and experiential opportunities, such as suggesting a child defer enrolling in kindergarten with age-appropriate peers (Brassard & Boehm, 2007). When assessment results are used to make decisions about a child’s access to curricular experiences, assessments become “high-stakes” for individual learners and the educational ramifications experienced by the child can persist throughout their academic career.

Early literacy assessments, developed for initial screening purposes, usually measure students’ phonemic awareness, alphabetic knowledge, and print knowledge which are literacy competencies associated with children’s future reading performance (Coyne & Harn, 2006). Results from literacy screening assessments help educators recognize which children might experience reading and writing difficulties in the future without additional instruction or intervention (Coyne & Harn, 2006). When considering early literacy screening data, educators should keep in mind that performances on initial screenings are suggestive of a child’s future performance. In reality, research documenting children’s literacy progressions overtime demonstrates that many students who demonstrate weaker phonological sensitivity (the ability to hear the sound components that make up words) on early literacy screening assessments will go on to become accomplished readers (National Research Council, 1998). This finding does not negate an educators’ need to monitor a child’s emerging phonological skills. If a child continues to demonstrate weak phonological sensitivity, it is increasingly likely the child will need more intensive support to develop proficient reading and writing skills (National Research Council, 1998). Therefore, early educators are encouraged to use children’s performances on screening assessments to provide intentional instructional literacy experiences targeting a child’s knowledge in specific literacy arenas. When emergent literacy screening, diagnostic, and readiness assessments are used in this way, early childhood educators gain insight into what their students currently know and can plan literacy experiences by targeting areas of growth for individual children (Ivernizzi et al., 2010)

A teacher sits and two children stand at a table with paper and crayons.
Educators observe children as they practice curricular concepts.

Diagnostic assessments also document areas of strength and areas for growth across specific literacy components. Diagnostic assessment enables teachers to modify and improve the current instruction practices to support individual children (Coyne & Harn, 2006; Gilliam & Frede, 2015). Diagnostic assessments are more detailed than initial screening assessments and data from diagnostic assessments can help educators ascertain (a) the specific emergent literacy skills a child has mastered and which skills they are still developing, (b) the most promising intervention programs for children based on individual profiles, and (c) make intentional decisions about how to sort children into meaningful instructional groups (Coyne & Harn, 2006, p. 40).

Figure 6.3 Diagnostic

Box says Diagnostic at top. First bullet says, Used with chidlren who have been referred for additional assessments to determine eligibility for special education services, targeted interventions, or accommodations. Second bullet says, Typically administered by outside assessment specialists (e.g., psychologist, intervention specialist, speech pathologist).

Progress monitoring assessments are used at periodic intervals overtime. Progress monitoring is appropriate for typically developing children as well as children who are meeting developmental milestones at a slower pace than their age-level peers. The Transdisciplinary-Based Play Assessment (TBPA) (Linder, 2008) is an example of a formal assessment system designed to document a child’s performances across developmental domains (i.e., sensorimotor, emotional and social, communication and language, and cognition). This particular assessment “presents a process for planning, implementing, and evaluating intervention for children from birth to 6 years of age who need supports to enhance their development” (Linder, 2008, p. 4). As the name suggests, TBPA is a play-based assessment and a play-facilitator guides the child through a series of play spaces designed to elicit particular performances. TBPA uses a team approach (including the family, educator, and other service providers) to evaluate a child’s understanding and establish baseline developmental performance levels. Upon completion of the initial observation-based assessment, the team works together to identify learning goals for the child, determine eligibility for additional services, and make recommendations for interventions.

Subsequently, educators use the TBPA Age Tables and 9-point Goal Attainment Scales to monitor a child’s development over time. The educator uses the scales to document the child’s play-based performances attending to the strategic interventions embedded to promote the child’s growth. The educator shares the progress monitoring reports with relevant stakeholders and uses the assessment data to modify instructional practices to support the child. Learning how to monitor young children’s developmental progress in response to special intervention services they are receiving is an essential assessment practice for all early childhood educators. It takes time to understand comprehensive developmental progressions used by formal assessment systems like TBPA but, ultimately, they are rich resources for educators, families, and early care programs. Such assessment systems provide educators with meaningful growth trajectories and support educators in the creation of developmentally appropriate learning experiences for all learners.

Figure 6.4 Progress Monitoring

Box says Progress Monitoring at the top. Bullet says, Used at periodic intervals over time to monitor progress toward developmental milestones.

Formal assessments support educators’ overall understanding of children’s literacy progress. In collaboration with families and outside specialists, educators use formal assessments along with other assessment practices to encourage holistic pictures of children. Figures 6.2, 6.3, and 6.4 summarize the purposes for formal assessment and the section below explores informal assessment practices educators use to make instructional decisions with children in mind.

6.3c Curriculum-Based Assessments

Curriculum-based assessments, a subset of criterion-referenced assessments, document a child’s mastery of specific goals and objectives after engaging in a particular curriculum. Early childhood educators use these assessments to identify the knowledge and skills the child possesses. Educators use information from curriculum-based assessments to design intentional instructional experiences in response to the child’s demonstrated knowledge.

Teaching Strategies GOLD and Assessment, Evaluation, and Programing System for Infants and Children (AEPS) are two examples of common, curriculum-based assessment systems designed to support educators’ intentional documentation of children’s understandings and guide curricular decisions linked to children’s performances. Teaching Strategies GOLD uses a digital portfolio assessment system to store and evaluate artifacts (e.g., photographs, videos, and observational notes) to capture children’s literacy expressions as they interact with their environment in authentic ways. GOLD uses color-coded developmental milestone charts to monitor and support a child’s literacy growth. Similarly, AEPS is also grounded in observational assessment practices capturing children’s play-based expressions. AEPS provides educators with observational data forms to document how well a child performs specific tasks within sets of developmentally progressive, criteria-based learning objectives. APES uses a scaled evaluation system (i.e., 2- consistently meets criterion, 1- inconsistently meets criterion, and 0- does not meet criterion) to determine how children are currently expressing their emergent literacy skills.

Early childhood programs also develop their own sets of curriculum-based assessment practices. When early care and education centers create their own curriculum-based assessment programs they still use developmental progressions like the ones articulated in Virginia’s Early Learning & Development Standards (2021) to inform their work with young children. Designing their own curriculum-based assessment practices affords programs flexibility to align practices with their unique pedagogical philosophies, values, and goals (e.g., Montessori, Reggio, outdoor learning schools, STEAM centers, etc.). Curriculum-based assessment practices help educators strategically structure learning experiences to monitor and promote children’s progressions through critical literacy milestones.

A teacher and children sit at a table looking at and touching letter stencils and stick letters.
Educators use formative assessment practices to provide in the moment guidance for young children.
6.3d Informal Assessment Practices

Informal assessments are frequently designed by the educator or the program to capture children’s literacy performances throughout the school day. Informal assessments are distinguished from formal assessments in that the assessment tools have not undergone extensive piloting with diverse student populations to determine developmental norms and establish inter-rater reliability, test-retest reliability, and validity metrics. The informal label does not mean these assessment practices are not as “good” as a formal assessment. In fact, informal assessment practices are essential aspects of early childhood educators’ daily routines. Informal assessments are grounded in systematic observation practices and typically leverage a number of documentation tools (e.g., anecdotal notes, observational running records, checklists, work samples, portfolios, etc.) to capture children’s literacy expressions within familiar play-based learning contexts. Data gathered within authentic contexts provides actionable information regarding the strengths and needs of individual children without the additional scoring or comparison of a child’s performance to other children (Brown & Rolfe, 2005; Lonigan, 2006; Navarrete et al., 1990).

Educators develop informal assessment for a variety of purposes. Some informal assessment tools capture children’s conversations, other tools document children’s attention to rhyme schemes embedded in songs and read alouds. Educators also use informal assessment tools to gain insight into children’s preferences and attitudes toward specific learning centers and literacy play materials. Well-designed informal assessment tools effectively document children’s literacy knowledge and expressions as they engage with “tasks that are personally meaningful, take place in real life contexts, and are grounded in naturally occurring instructional activities” (Epstein et al., 2004, p. 6). When designing and implementing informal assessments, educators need a clear understanding of developmental literacy progressions. Educators also need to know what individual children already understand about how language, reading, and writing interact to create literacy learning experiences and environments that support children’s emergent literacy knowledge (Navarrete et al., 1990). As educators continue to capture children’s literacy expressions over time, the intentional informal assessment notations accumulate in incremental ways to generate a more holistic representation of children’s literacy repertoires. In turn, as educators’ knowledge of each child continues to grow, they are able to make intentional instructional and curricular decisions to better support children’s literacy learnings.

When educators first begin using embedded assessment practices, it may feel awkward. Initially, children may pose for photos and perform for videos while the perfect authentic literacy enactments elude capture. Children may openly wonder why their teacher is constantly jotting notes, watching closely, taking photos, or making videos. That is wonderful. Invite children into the assessment experience, explain that capturing all of their thinking and creating shows what they already know about how the world works. When particular documentation tools are used frequently, children and educators view the assessment practice as a natural part of the classroom culture and the tools themselves become invisible.

6.3e Formative and Summative Assessment Practices

The terms formative and summative are frequently paired assessment terms focused on documenting children’s learning as they progress through units of study. Educators use formal and informal assessment tools as formative and summative assessments to gain an understanding of a child’s developmental progressions. Formative assessments are used to inform the next curricular and instructional decisions an educator will make to meet children’s interests, strengths, and needs (Kidd et al., 2019). The formative assessment methods include “all those activities undertaken by teachers […] to modify teaching and learning activities” (Black & William, 2010, p. 82). In order for these everyday assessment moments to be influential, educators need to (a) identify specific literacy learning goals, (b) select an assessment method for capturing evidence of the child’s emergent literacy performances, (c) create a plan for analyzing the assessment data collected, and (d) take time to interpret the assessment data to understand how a child is performing in relation to the specified literacy goals.

Questions Guiding Educator’s Interpretations of Formative Assessment Data

  • What literate behaviors are children currently enacting?
  • What aspects of literacy are children mastering?
  • What literacy behaviors are children ready to begin integrating in the future?
  • What instructional scaffolds, models, and materials can I implement to support the child’s literacy development?
  • What other information do I need to gain a more complete understanding of the child’s literacy development?


While formative assessments capture how a student is performing in the moment and support an educator’s efforts to promote a child’s learning in the near future, summative assessments seek to present a final (or summative) evaluation of student learning (Kidd et al., 2019). Summative assessments are often utilized at the end of instructional units to “capture what a student has learned” (National Research Council, 2001, p. 25). Early education centers also use summative assessment results to evaluate overall program effectiveness (Kidd et al., 2019).

Questions Guiding Educator’s Interpretations of Summative Assessment Data

  • How does a child’s literacy performances in language, reading, and writing compare to learning goals?
  • How does the assessment data capturing children’s overall literacy development this year compare to children evaluated in previous years?
  • In what literacy areas are children meeting or exceeding expectations related to specified language, reading, and writing goals? And, what specific program literacy practices supported children’s literacy expressions?
  • In what literacy areas would children benefit from enhanced curricular development to bolster literacy expressions?

Branch from the Nested Literacy Model Figure 1.16.4 Assessment Strategies and Tools

           Children possess a wealth of knowledge and curiosity that educators leverage intentionally to enrich, extend, and enhance the knowledge and skills children demonstrate. Assessment data guides educators’ differentiation practices and supports their efforts to provide meaningful and relevant learning experiences for individual learner’s literacy needs (Ivernizzi et al., 2010; Rosko, 2004). When considering how to embed effective assessment practices into daily instructional routines it is helpful to think of assessment as a series of ongoing evaluations that help educators’ notice and note young children’s literacy expressions. Intentional noticings influence how educators reshape the environment and curricular opportunities to continue to nurture and challenge a child’s emerging literacies. To fully document a child’s literacy understandings, educators need to feel comfortable using multiple assessment tools.

The following section describes a number of assessment tools educators use to capture children’s literacy expressions. The assessment tools are flexible and can be used in a variety of ways to focus educators’ intentional noticings. To fully represent a child’s emergent literacy knowledge, educators frequently need to use a combination of assessment tools. Learning how to manipulate a core set of assessment tools eases educators’ efforts embracing ongoing assessment practices. Anecdotal notes, observational running records, checklists, frequency counts, artifact sampling, documentation panels, and portfolios provide educators with a variety of options for capturing children’s literacy expressions. These assessment tools can be used informally or to provide evidence as part of a formal assessment process (e.g., AEPSi, GOLD®, and Transdisciplinary-Based Play). The flexible nature of these assessment tools allows educators to capture children’s literacy expressions throughout the day. Moreover, these assessment practices can become a regular part of children’s and educators’ daily routines.

6.4a Anecdotal Notes

Anecdotal notes are brief and descriptive notes made after a specific behavior or interaction occurs (Mindes & Jung, 2015). In the classroom, teachers write anecdotal notes to record student behaviors, skills, and performance and compile the anecdotal notes on students as a document system. The cumulative information can be used to track progress and changes in a child’s behavior and performance as well as plan for activities and strategies to use in the classroom. Once environments are established, educators can use anecdotal notes to document children’s literacy performances as they play with their peers in literacy enriched contexts.

Figure 6.5 provides an example of an anecdotal note captured by Jinah’s teacher while she was writing a grocery list in the dramatic play center. As the teacher paused to watch and listen to Jinah and Emma, she focused in on Jinah’s emergent writing process. Jinah’s focused effort illustrates an emerging knowledge of the alphabetic principle and her ability to identify initial, and some ending, phonemes.

Figure 6.5 Example of an Anecdotal Note


Anecdotal Note

Grocery Store themes in dramatic play centers encourage children to explore a number of literacy concepts. Inventory sheets encourage grocery workers to tally and count supplies to stock the shelves. Notepads prompt children to create lists to help them remember what they want to buy when they are the customer. Labels with pictures on the shelves and at the checkout support children’s “reading” of the play environment.

Date: Sept 7, 2021

Jinah chose dramatic play during the center time. She and Emma decided to make fruit salad for their lunch and started to write a grocery list. They talked about which fruit they wanted to add in their salad. In a grocery list, Jinah mouthed the word apple and wrote AL with a red marker. Saying A and L as she wrote. She continued… WN (watermelon), GS (grapes). Jinah identified the uppercase letters A, L, G, S, W, N. Her grocery list shows she also understands the sounds of those letters.


6.4b Observational Running Records

Observational running records are detailed and comprehensive notes written while an event is happening. Running records capture an individual child’s (or a group of children’s) language and literacy behaviors in a short period of time, generally between 5 and 10 minutes. The extended nature of a running record requires planning to ensure the educator has enough additional instructor support to allow for a focused observation with minimal interruptions. When planning to conduct a running record it is a good idea to identify the child, the context, and the duration of the observation before scripting the observational data. Once a running record is complete, educators typically rejoin the learning environment or shift to observing another child. Evaluations of the running records are completed at a later time, when the educator has the time to intentionally analyze the child’s performances against relevant milestones, trajectories, or benchmarks. Educators use running records throughout the year and the collection of records reveals a child’s growth overtime.

Figure 6.6 provides an example of a running record focused on a child’s language patterns, physical performances, and emergent reading skills. During this observational assessment moment, Ms. Everston planned to observe Danielle during outdoor recess to document who she decided to play with and the storyline she decided to enact. During the observation block, Ms. Everston worked to write down everything she directly observed regarding the child’s actions including body movements and gestures, verbal exchanges, and facial expressions. Notice that she is not involved in Danielle’s play while writing notes, and in her written notations she refrains from making judgements or assumptions about the child’s intentions or literacy performances.

Figure 6.6 Example of a Running Record

Date: 10-26-2020

Time: 2:15-2:22

Child: Danielle (age 2 ½ – 30 months)

Place: Playground

Setting: Transportation Track

Others involved: Miss Haskins (preschool teacher -MH)

Observer: Ms. Everston

Objective for this observation:

To assess how Danielle spent her time at the playground and how she used language to communicate with her peers and adults while interacting with them.




Danielle walks up to a tricycle and points at it. She looked at the teacher who was assisting another child. Miss Haskins (MH)- “Sure, you can ride the tricycle, Danielle.” Danielle holds the right handlebar with her right hand and tries to lift her left leg to sit on the saddle. She repeats, “Ride bike.” (MH) says, “Yes, Danielle go ahead. You can do it.”


She lifts her left leg over and sits down on the seat and shakes her hand for the teacher to come. Again, she says, “Ride bike.” MH “Where would you like to go?” D- “Go round” D gestures to the roundabout in the transportation track where two other children are going around and around the traffic circle.


MH – “Okay, so how do you want to get there?” (At the start of the transportation track she can choose to go around on a blue or green path.) D – “Go blue” D points to a path and points the front handlebars and tire to the blue path. D – motor noises begin “Broom, -oom” humming and buzzing of lips as D begins pedaling on the blue arrows.


D pedals and “brooms” with head leaning forward toward the handle bars and eyes focused slightly up. D’s eyes go big and her voice gets louder …“I see stop.” D stops pedaling at the red stop sign on the track. “I go.” D continues pedaling to the roundabout. (end-2:22)

Analysis date/time: 10/26/20 at 3:30

Assessment: Transdisciplinary-Based Play II (Linder, 2008)

Danielle’s interactions with the teacher align with communication development milestones for a child of 30 months. She names one color, uses two- and three-word combinations to communicate her ideas. Danielle’s command of the pedals on the tricycle is also developmentally appropriate. Danielle shows some evidence of problem-solving skill by selecting a color path to travel around. Danielle also demonstrated memory skills in her response to the stop sign by recognizing the sign and then performing the corresponding action. Danielle’s reading of the stop sign also demonstrates that she is recognizing some familiar signs/symbols, an important emergent literacy skill.

A child rides a tricycle down concrete that has white arrows showing which direction to ride on each side of a double yellow line. A stop sign stands at the end of one side of the pretend road.
Children learn familiar symbols, such as stop signs, even before they are connecting letters to sounds.
6.4c Checklists

Checklists are useful tools for documenting some emergent literacy skills and behaviors (Mindes & Jung, 2015). Intentionally designed checklists can help an educator attend to specific literacy performances in the moment. Checklists are particularly useful when an educator is learning to notice particular literacy expressions or capturing a child’s expressions during play. Educators can use checklists to quickly document specific literacy skills and use the list to determine subsequent instructional opportunities. Checklists do not indicate how well a child performs, they document moments when a child did or did not perform a particular literacy skill. In the opening vignette at the beginning of this chapter, Mr. Costello used a checklist to document the letter names Isabella readily identifies as she plays with letters at the water table. Figure 6.7 provides an example of a letter identification checklist designed to document children’s letter play across a variety of contexts. Notice how this checklist is enhanced with a spot for anecdotal notations. Adding a space for anecdotal notes helps mediate the fact that a checklist alone provides limited insight into a child’s literacy performances.

Figure 6.7 Observational Checklist

Observation Checklist

Alphabet Play

Location: Water Table

Context: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Letter Island

Letter Focus: 26 lower case letters

Child’s Name: Isabella Date: Nov 10


The image show a checklist of all the letters of the alphabet. The following letters are marked: a,b,c,e,l,n,o,p,s, and t.

Anecdotal Notes: Isabella flipped the lower case b around singing, “Look, I’m a B… Look, I’m a P…Look, I’m a B…” in a sing-songy voice as she danced the letter across the water.  Note: Play ended before she interacted with any additional letters.



6.4d Artifacts

Collecting artifacts as evidence of children’s literacy expressions is an essential authentic assessment practice for early childhood educators. Artifacts provide evidence of children’s literacy expressions and learning at a particular moment in time. Photographs, videos, work samples, child generated products, and audio recordings of children engaging in literacy explorations are some examples of artifacts educators collect over time to understand children’s emergent literacy performances. Deciding what artifacts to hold onto and what artifacts or archival moments to pass by can be overwhelming as educators first begin collecting documentation of a child’s performances. To begin the process, consider collecting at least one type of literacy-focused artifact (e.g. a photograph, a short video, a writing sample, etc.) from each child every week. As each artifact is collected, use the developmental reading, writing, and language progressions the school uses to notice what can be readily observed about a child’s literacy knowledge. With practice, recognizing when an artifact yields important insight about a child’s literacy knowledge and how to analyze different artifacts becomes easier. Over time, these authentic assessments are joyful reminders for educators and families of how much a child learns over the course of a year.

6.4e Frequency Counts

As the name suggests, frequency counts are used to document how often a particular event occurs. Educators create frequency count charts to capture how many times a child performs or engages in a particular literacy event. For example, an educator might use a frequency count to monitor how often a child self-selects reading a book in the class library or uses the puppet theatre to tell a story. The information provided by such frequency counts provides some insight into where a child spends their time, but the information is limited. A frequency count does not capture how the child is interacting with the literacy rich materials and might not capture other play spaces where the child is using their literacy skills (e.g., when the child uses cookbooks and recipe cards in the kitchen). Therefore, frequency counts should not be used in isolation to draw conclusions about the child’s overall literacy enactments.

On the other hand, literacy focused frequency counts may be most impactful when educators use them to determine how frequently particular learning centers and literacy-rich materials are utilized by the children over a period of time. This type of data could help an educator notice trends in the children’s literacy play routines to make intentional changes to the children’s instructional environment. A frequency count could lead an educator to enhance particular spaces by adding writing or supplemental text materials, or prompt the educator to model the use of specific literacy tools to support children’s literacy-based play (e.g., felt boards, dry erase boards, graph paper).

6.4g Event Sampling

Event sampling is used to document a child’s performances during a specific event. Charts can be used to quickly capture when a child engages in particular literacy events. Figure 6.8 provides an example of an event sampling chart designed to strategically focus on children’s explorations of fiction and non-fiction texts in the class library. Collected over an extended period of time, the basic event sampling chart information yields some insight into children’s text preferences and what the child attends to when reading or retelling a text. When more information about a child’s behavior is desired, event sampling may be combined with an antecedent, behavior, and consequence (ABC) assessment frame to support an educators’ sequencing of a particular event. Figure 6.8 provides an example of how the teacher, Mr. Thompson, uses the ABC assessment frame to analyze a video he captured of Jonathan in the library corner. Mr. Thompson uses the ABC lens to focus on Jonathan’s emergent literacy practices while he retells a story to his friend and some stuffed animals in the library. The analysis space summarizes the child’s interactions and articulates the specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions observed throughout the event.

Figure 6.8 Event Sampling

Reading Event Sampling


Self-selects narrative text

Self-selects informational text

Uses pictures to orally retell the narrative story

Uses pictures to explain informational text

















*Event sampling with video and ABC notations.


10/3 (Video recording)







Jonathan says, “Let’s play storytime.”

He takes Anya’s hand and they go to the library center.

After reaching the library center, Jonathan arranges the small rocker in the corner to create an open area on the carpet for his class. Anya begins putting stuffed animals in a semicircle facing the rocking chair.


Jonathan says, “I will read first.”

He goes to the library shelf and begins looking for a book to read.

Anya sits down on her knees behind the circle of animals.


Anya says, “Let’s read the penguin book with the lollipop.”

Jonathan, laughing says, “Okay” and picks up The Penguin and the Lollipop. He opens the book on his lap with appropriate directionality to support his reading.

Anya folds her hands in her lap after repositioning a bear that flopped over, getting everyone ready to listen to Johnathan read the story.


Jonathan holds up the book with the cover facing Anya.

Jonathan says, “Today we are going to read, little penguin eats a lollipop.”

Anya and the animals wait.

10: 16

Jonathan puts the book back down on his lap and says, “This is Little Penguin. He made a mistake and ate the little bird’s lollipop.”

Jonathan pauses to turn the book around so the animals and Anya can see the pictures.

Anya says, “Oh no, little bird looks mad.”

Analysis: Jonathan demonstrated a sense of directionality while reading the book. He paused in the beginning to state the title and mimic the way we begin storytime. He began retelling the story on the first page of the book where the story begins. Jonathan’s retelling demonstrates comprehension of the storyline elements, including the main characters and the problem.

6.4h Time Sampling
A child kneels on the carpet building a block structure in the block area.
Time sampling can be used to observe a child’s engagement with a particular activity such as constructing a block tower.

Time sampling is another observational strategy used by educators to capture how a child engages with their environment over a period of time. Time sampling is particularly beneficial when an educator is seeking to determine how long a child sustains their engagement in a literacy-rich play center. To conduct a time sampling, an educator selects a focus child, determines which behaviors will be observed, establishes the duration for the time sampling period, and sets the time intervals they will use to monitor the child’s engagement. In Figure 6.9 Ms. Haskins captures Aleksandra’s block center play. Notice how the child draws on her emerging literacy skills as she strategically constructs her farm. What materials and practices in the classroom are in place to support her literacy skills? How does the educator support her creative efforts?

Figure 6.9 Time Sampling

Time Sampling

Date : April 3, 2021

Observer: Ms. Haskins

Child’s Name: Aleksandra

Time interval: 5 minutes

Time of Day: Center Exploration Time (10:30 – 11:30)


Aleksandra (A) heads to the block area.


A – is using a construction blueprint photo to build a tower following the image – she is working by herself


A – is selecting a new blueprint photo


A – is sorting through blocks to find the size she needs for her second tower


A – is building her second tower about 12 inches from her first tower


A – is still working on her second tower


A – is sorting through the blueprint photo file to find another tower

her second tower is complete


A – is working on a third tower

Enrique and Emily pull the train tracks out next to A. A says, “Please make the train over there. By my garage.” E and E move over a bit to make room. Looking at her towers, Enrique says, “Where are the trucks?”


A – places the last block on the tower and stands looking around the room

-she moves to the writing center and collects a clipboard, small index cards, and a crayon

– she goes back to her towers


A – is writing on one of the index cards

Another index card is in front of the first tower she built.

In blue crayon she wrote “HS” on the index card.


A – has three index cards placed in front of her towers “HS” “B” and “G”


A – is pulling cows and horses from the animal basket and putting them around the tower with a B

cars are placed under the G tower


A – asks to take a picture of her farm so that she can make it again tomorrow

Ms. Hamilton takes a photo and suggests putting a big fence around her farm so she can continue making her farm the next day.

Analysis: Aleksandra worked with intentionality to create her farm today. She mentioned to Ms. Hamilton that she wanted to keep it so that she could play “farm” with her friend Sara tomorrow, who was not here today. Ms. Hamilton asked her to tell her about her farm, and Aleksandra showed her the house, the garage, and the barn. The initial consonants are reflected in the signs she made, as well as an ending consonant sound in house. This demonstrates her emerging writing skills and developing phonological awareness. Using the blueprints for the towers also provides insight into how she is reading images to create and interpret her world.


6.4i Assessment Practices for Communicating with Families

Early childhood is an exciting time for capturing young learners’ emerging literacy performances and for sharing children’s growth with family members and other relevant stakeholders (e.g., special educators, psychologists, other educators, and program administrators). Children continually acquire new insights about how language works, how text conveys meaning, and how their drawings, scribbles, and letters work to communicate their ideas to others. Young children’s literacy expressions are numerous and rapidly evolving. Therefore, educators need to develop systematic ways for gathering children’s literacy performances and sharing their efforts with others. Strong assessment practices inform conversations with parents, colleagues, and other professionals as they consider how to best support children in their development. Documentation panels and portfolio assessments are two holistic assessment practices educators can use to illuminate children’s emergent literacy performances. These assessment tools encourage educators to use strengths-based assessment practices, invite children to actively reflect on their own learning, and celebrate children’s growth by making children’s literacy understandings visible to themselves and others.

6.4i1 Documentation panels. Documentation panels provide a public space for sharing children’s work, posting children’s plans, and capturing the questions the children want to resolve. Documentation panels are a unique assessment tool designed to explicitly capture a curricular project as it unfolds. The practice seeks to make learning visible and stems from the Reggio Emilia philosophy. Traditionally, children and educators used bulletin boards, blank walls, and hall spaces for posting timelines of collaborative explorations. Today, digital photo journals and other electronic platforms also provide meaningful spaces for sharing and documenting children’s explorations while taking up minimal space in the classroom. Documentation panels differ from the other assessment practices discussed in this chapter, in that the children take an active role in creating the panels and are encouraged to use the practice as a way of synthesizing their thinking about a particular topic.

Children and educators use documentation panels to explore numerous topics and ideas that frequently emerge from children’s own wonderings or interests. For example, the Time Sampling assessment detailed in Figure 6.4g ended with Aleksandra asking the educator to take a photo of the “farm” she created. Aleksandra’s sustained focus on building the farm offered a possible starting place for engaging in an extended exploration of life on a farm. By pausing to preserve Aleksandra’s work and photograph it for later reference, Ms. Hamilton and Aleksandra have started documenting the experience. Together they can brainstorm how to invite other children into their exploration and begin adding to her tower work.

Over time, the documentation panels accumulate collections of children’s artifacts honoring children’s investigative work. Artifacts such as children’s drawings, responses to shared books, lists of books explored, photographs of block cities or sidewalk chalk art, educator’s annotations, children’s dictations, question boards, and more illustrate children’s literacy performances and document their learning journey. In this way, the power of children’s emergent literacy performances become a central assessment tool for driving curricular explorations and empowering children as learners. To promote the dynamic power of documentation panels, educators encourage children to share what they are wondering and invite children to identify what they want to learn more about. Then, in collaboration with children, educators use documentation panels to set learning goals and support children’s interests by intentionally embedding literacy-rich exploration opportunities.

Two color wheel paintings hang on the wall.
Documentation panels describe children’s curricular experiences, such as color explorations during wheel painting.

6.4i2 Portfolios. Portfolio assessment practices encourage educators to integrate a variety of ongoing assessment practices to capture children’s learning and development over time. Portfolios come in a variety of forms and serve a variety of purposes. Educators create emergent literacy portfolios to store evidence of children’s literacy expressions. Any of the assessment tools discussed throughout this chapter are relevant portfolio artifacts. Portfolios offer educators and children a tangible way to capture, monitor, and evaluate children’s diverse literacy enactments. Accordingly, portfolios are typically child specific and educators can work with children to select artifacts they would like to keep to share as evidence of their learning. When educators invite children to be a part of the portfolio assessment practice, it empowers children and encourages them to be active and engaged learners.

Digital portfolio platforms linked to assessment systems like Learning Systems GOLD® or AEPSi are becoming more common in early care and education centers. Commercially available portfolio systems ease educators’ efforts organizing diverse assessment artifacts and support educators’ analysis of children’s development through defined learning progressions. When early care and education programs use a common digital portfolio assessment system, it is easier to share children’s learning with relevant stakeholders including families, other educators and early care professionals, and state agencies. Digital portfolios also expand educators’ efforts engaging in program evaluations. Moreover, portfolio assessment systems establish a common assessment language for reflecting on children’s growth and allows educators across age levels to collaboratively analyze assessment data to make strategic decisions regarding curricular practices.

Digital Portfolio Assessment Platforms are Appealing

Digital Portfolios are

  • Easily shared with relevant stakeholders
  • Demand minimal classroom storage space
  • Allow children and educators to preserve numerous artifacts and assessment records
  • Offer meaningful assessment artifacts for families focused on understanding their child’s growth


Pause and Consider: Preparing for a Literacy Conference

This chapter examined a number of assessment tools educators use to inform their understandings of children’s emergent literacy progression. The chapter’s opening vignette introduced you to Mr. Costello and his use of observational notes. The following vignette extends the narrative with Mr. Costello. As you read, identify the portfolio artifacts Mr. Costello will share with Isabella’s parents to show how Isabella uses her emerging literacy skills in diverse and personally relevant ways throughout her school day.

Mr. Costello is preparing for a conference with Isabella’s parents. He turns to review a set of artifacts he has collected over the first part of the year. The artifacts include the following items:

1) photographs of Isabella painting in the art center,

2) a video of Isabella retelling her favorite book to a friend,

3) a menu she created as a prop for the new restaurant the children created in the kitchen area after he read aloud Dim Sum for Everyone, by Grace Lin (2001), and

4) focused anecdotal notes and checklists he maintained when working with children in small groups or individual teaching moments. One of his anecdotal notes reveals Isabella demonstrated confidence generating rhyming words as part of a hopscotch game on the playground (bat and cat, see and bee, duck and truck).

Before reading on, consider what each assessment you noticed reveals about Isabella’s emergent literacy development?

Now consider the following assessment possibilities. The photograph and the menu provide insight into Isabella’s emergent writing practices. The photograph reveals insight regarding Isabella’s fine motor development, including handedness, grip, and control with diverse writing instruments. The menu demonstrates Isabella knows that writing is used to reach a particular audience, has purpose, and can take on a variety of forms. Isabella’s printed text also shows her emerging skills with the alphabetic principle, phonological awareness, fine motor control, and automaticity with letter formation. The video of Isabella retelling Dim Sum for Everyone provides evidence of Isabella’s comprehension of storylines, integrations of new vocabulary words, and perhaps how she relates personally to the text.

Collectively, the assessment strategies described across this chapter offer educators a variety of ways to intentionally notice and attend to children’s emergent literacy practices. To effectively integrate ongoing assessment practices, educators begin with one tool and systematically add new assessment tools to their repertoires. Over time, educators build their confidence using, analyzing, and discussing children’s performances becoming assessment literate.

Key Takeaways

Using diverse assessment tools to accumulate information capturing children’s interests, understandings, and goals across all developmental domains (i.e., social, emotional, cognitive, and physical) allows educators to make informed instructional decisions about future curricular experiences (Kidd et al., 2019). Educators use their knowledge of the child, the curriculum, and literacy milestones when selecting an assessment tool to document a child’s literacy expressions. In early childhood contexts, play-based assessments capture children’s literacy expressions as they interact with materials, peers, educators, and other adults in literacy rich environments. Ongoing, intentional, and child-centric assessment practices promote equity by honoring individuals’ literacy progressions in meaningful ways. As Mr. Costello illustrated, diverse assessment practices yield rich and nuanced understandings of a child’s emerging literacies.

Additional Resources 

Early Childhood Assessment, Curriculum, and Program Evaluation Position Statement, National Association for Education of Young Children https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/position-statements/pscape.pdf

Promoting Positive Outcomes for Children with Disabilities: Recommendations for Curriculum Assessment and Program Evaluation Position Statement, Division for Early Childhood of the Council of Exceptional Children https://www.decdocs.org/position-statement-promoting-positi


Black, P., & William, D. (2010). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 81–90. https://doi.org/10.1177/ 003172171009200119.

Brassard, M. R., & Boehm, A. E. (2007). Preschool assessment: Principles and practices. Guilford Press.

Brown, J., & Rolfe, S. A. (2005). Use of child development assessment in early childhood education: Early childhood practitioner and student attitudes toward formal and informal testing. Early Child Development and Care, 175(3), 193–202. https://doi.org/10.1080/0300443042000266240

Coyne, D. M., & Harn, A. B. (2006). Promoting beginning reading success through meaningful assessment of early literacy skills. Psychology in the Schools, 43(1), 33–43. https://doi.org/10.1002/pits.20127

Epstein, A. S., Schweinhart, L. J., DeBruin-Parecki, A., & Robin, K. B. (2004). Preschool assessment: A guide to developing a balanced approach. National Institute for Early Education Research; High/Scope Educational Research Foundation.

Gilliam, W. S., & Frede, E. (2015). Accountability and program evaluation in early education. In R. C. Pianta, W. S. Barnett, S. M. Sheridan, & L. M. Justice (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood education (pp.73–91). Guilford Publications.

Ivernizzi, M., Landrum, J. T., Teichman, A., & Townsend, M. (2010). Increased implementation of emergent literacy screening in pre-kindergarten. Early Childhood Education, 37, 437–446. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-009-0371-7

Kidd, J. K., Burns, M. S., & Ilham, N. (2019). Promoting intentional teaching: The learn professional development model for early childhood educators. Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Linder, T. (2008). Transdisciplinary play-based assessment (2nd ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Lonigan, C. J. (2006). Development, assessment, and promotion of preliteracy skill. Early Education and Development, 17(1), 91–114. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15566935eed1701_5

McLean, M., Banerjee, R., Squires, J., & Hebbeler, K. (2020). Assessment: Recommended practices for young children and families. Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Mindes, G., & Jung, L. A. (2018). Assessing young children. Pearson Education.

National Association for the Education of Young Children & National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8. https://www.naeyc.org/sites/default/files/globally-shared/downloads/PDFs/resources/position-statements/pscape.pdf

National Research Council. (1998). Preventing reading difficulties in young children. (C.E. Snow, M.S. Burns, & P. Griffin, Eds.). National Academy Press.

National Research Council. (2008). Early childhood assessment: Why, what, and how (C. E. Snow & S. B. Van Hemel, Eds.). The National Academies Press.

Navarrete, C., Wilde, J., Nelson, C., Martinez, R., & Hargett, G. (1990). Informal assessment in educational evaluation: Implications for bilingual education programs. National Clearinghouse for Bilingual Education.

Ohio Department of Education. (2010). Catalog of screening and assessment instruments for young children birth through age 5 (2nd ed.). https://www.escneo.org/Downloads/Catalog_Screen_assessment2.pdf

Piker, R. A., & Jewkes, A. M. (2013). Assessing young children’s learning. In R. Reutzel (Ed.), Handbook of research-based practice in early education (pp. 250–271). Guilford Press.

Popham, J. W. (2011). Assessment literacy overlooked: A teacher educator’s confession. The Teacher Educator, 46, 265-273. https://doi.org/10.1080/08878730.2011.605048

Rosko, K. (2004). Early literacy assessment-Thoughtful, sensible, and good. The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 91–94.

Shepard, K., Kagan, S. L., & Wurtz K. E. (1998). Principles and recommendations for early childhood assessments. National Education Goals Panel.

Simon, L. V., Hashmi, M. F., & Bragg, B. N. (2021). APGAR score. StatPearls Publishing LLC. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470569/

Virginia Department of Education. (2021). Virginia’s early learning & development standards (ELDS): Birth-five learning guidelines. https://www.doe.virginia.gov/early-childhood/curriculum/va-elds-birth-5.pdf

Children’s Literature Referenced

Lin, G. (2001). Dim Sum for everyone! Random House Children’s Books.

Martin, B., Archambault, J.,  & Charles, R. (1989). Chicka chicka boom boom. Little Simon.

Assessment References

Bricker, D., Capt, B., & Pretti-Frontczak, K. (2002). Assessment, evaluation, and programming system for infants and children (2nd ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Brigance, A. H. (2004). Brigance diagnostic inventory of early development (3rd ed.). Curriculum Associate.

Invernizzi, M., Sullivan, A., Swank, L., & Meier, J. (2004). PALS pre-K: Phonological awareness literacy screening for preschoolers (2nd ed.). University Printing Services.

Linder, T. (2008). Transdisciplinary play-based assessment (2nd ed.). Brookes Publishing.

Mardell, C., & Goldenberg, D. S. (2011). Developmental indicators for the assessment of learning (4th ed.). Pearson Assessment.

Newborg, J. (200.). The Battelle developmental inventory (3rd ed.). Riverside Insights.

Squires, J., & Bricker, D. (2009). ASQ-3: Ages & stages questionnaires (3rd ed.). Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Teaching Strategies (2011). Teaching Strategies GOLD: Assessment system.


Image Credits

Figure 6.1: Leslie La Croix and Kalyca Schultz. “Connection Between Assessment.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.2: Leslie La Croix and Kalyca Schultz. “Screening and Readiness.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.3: Leslie La Croix and Kalyca Schultz. “Diagnostic.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.4: Leslie La Croix and Kalyca Schultz. “Progress Monitoring.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.5: Leslie La Croix. “Example of an Anecdotal Note.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.6: Leslie La Croix. “Example of a Running Record.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.7: Leslie La Croix and Kalyca Schultz. “Observational Checklist.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.8: Leslie La Croix. “Event Sampling.” CC BY 2.0.

Figure 6.9: Leslie La Croix. “Time Sampling.” CC BY 2.0.

Additional Images

Image, Section 6.2: Longwood University. [Educator Analyzing Assessment Data] CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Image, Section 6.2: Lucy La Croix. [Bird] CC BY 2.0.

Image, Section 6.3 & 6.4: Lucy La Croix. [Branch] CC BY 2.0.

Image, Section 6.3b2: Longwood University. [Educator Engaged in Observation] CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Image, Section 6.3c: Longwood University. [Formative Assessment Practices: Informing Instructional Supports] CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Image, Section 6.4b: emdot. “Commuting Through Bike Town.” CC BY 2.0. (Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/emdot/15089676/in/photostream/)

Image, Section 6.4h: Longwood University. [Child Building With Tower Image Plans] CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Image, Section 6.4i1: Longwood University. [Documentation Panel Capturing Children’s Experiences Wheel Painting] CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.



Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Early Childhood Literacy: Engaging and Empowering Emergent Readers and Writers, Birth - Age 5 by Christine Pegorraro Schull; Leslie La Croix; Sara E. Miller; Kimberly Sanders Austin; and Julie K. Kidd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book