Child Screening & Assessment

Ongoing Assessment and Curriculum Planning

Home visitor recording a child readingThe grantee, with staff and parent input, selects the appropriate assessment tools and curriculum for each of its program options, including the home-based option. Ongoing assessments provide specific information about each child's learning and development. This helps the home visitor and family members to create focused, individualized learning opportunities and track each child's progress. Based on the ongoing assessment information, you may want to repeat some activities covered in a previous section of the curriculum or jump ahead to more advanced activities depending on the child's development and skills. 

HSPPS Child screenings and assessments, 45 CFR §1302.33 , provides requirements for assessment, which include the following: 

  • Must be valid and reliable for the population and purpose for which they will be used
  • Must be conducted by qualified and trained personnel
  • Must be age, developmentally, culturally, and linguistically appropriate
  • Must be appropriate for children with disabilities
  • If warranted through information gathered, make a referral to the local agency responsible for implementing IDEA for a formal evaluation to assess the child's eligibility for services under IDEA as soon as possible, and not to exceed timelines required under IDEA

In addition, assessments should:

  • Provide data that supports program individualization for each child
  • Provides ongoing information to evaluate the child's developmental level and progress in outcomes aligned to the goals described in the ELOF 
  • Results in usable information for teachers, home visitors, and parents
  • Is conducted with sufficient frequency to allow for individualization within the program year

The HSPPS also require each program to inform parents about the purposes of and results from screenings and assessments and discuss their child's progress (45 CFR §1302.35(f)).

How To 

You may support the effective use of ongoing assessment and curriculum planning for school readiness by:

  • Sharing your observations about the child and his interactions and eliciting the parents' observations
  • Explaining the use of the assessment tool and its relationship to your curriculum
  • Using the assessment tool and the curriculum to help plan individualized interactions and experiences in all five domains
  • Familiarizing the parents with the curriculum and how it is used in planning, along with their ideas and their child's interests
  • Sharing with parents, keeping in mind:
    • The inter-relationships between:
      • A research-based, age-, and developmentally appropriate curriculum
      • The parents' and your own observations
      • The family's culture, language, routines, and interests and shared goals for the child
    • The relationship between ongoing child assessment, including the use of tools that allow you to accurately track the child's progress, observation, and portfolios, and individualization of the curriculum
    • Your role is to support the parent's role in providing learning experiences and interactions for the child

Learn More 

Look at Me! Using Focused Child Observation with Infants and Toddlers
This video podcast introduces viewers to using focused observation with infants and toddlers and gives them an opportunity to "try out" some of the techniques discussed.

Resources for Measuring Services and Outcomes in Head Start Programs Serving Infants and Toddlers [PDF, 9MB]
Review information about existing screening and assessment instruments designed for use with children under age 3 and their families, as well as instruments designed for assessing the services programs provide them.

Family Engagement and Ongoing Child Assessment
The partnership between parents and Head Start and Early Head Start staff is fundamental to children's current and future success in school readiness and beyond. Discover how programs can share information with families about children's learning and development. Staff may use this resource to identify specific strategies that support relationship-building with families.

Last Updated: June 28, 2019