Reflecting and Interpreting Over Time

Home visitor planning with a family.

A third opportunity for staff to reflect, interpret, and plan for individualization happens when they look at information collected on each child over a longer period of time (e.g., several weeks or months, depending on the child’s age) to determine the child’s progress toward reaching individual goals. In infant and toddler group care settings, staff typically do this to prepare for staff-parent conferences and home visits (45 CFR §1302.33(b)(2) and 45 CFR §1302.34(b)(3), (6), (7)). Home visitors typically review and share information with families during weekly home visits and group socializations. However, they may also look at a child’s progress over time and share those reports with families periodically (45 CFR §1302.35(c)(5) and (f)).

When staff want to know a child’s current development levels in the five central ELOF domains, they compare their ongoing assessment information with developmental progressions and expectations for each domain (45 CFR §1302.33(b)(1)). (State early learning and development standards that have been aligned with the ELOF can also be a source of information about developmental expectations. However, early learning and development standards, including the ELOF, are not child assessment tools and should not be used as such.) To determine whether a child has made progress toward goals, staff compare the child’s current level in each domain with expectations in the ELOF for their age range.[4]

The conference with Lin’s family is next week. Lydia spends some quiet time reviewing all the data she’s collected on Lin since the home visit three months ago: individual child plans, observation notes, photos and videos, notes from conversations with Lin’s mother and grandmother and from the home visit, and information from her ongoing assessment tool. She also has her assessment tool and curriculum resources and refers to them as needed.

Lydia asks herself questions: What skills, abilities, interests, and goals did Lin have three months ago? What skills, abilities, and interests does Lin have now? What has changed and not changed in three months? What should I highlight at this time? What assessment information best captures Lin’s progress over time? What should I say about Lin’s progress toward her individual goals? Do I have any concerns I want to share with Lin’s family? As Lydia considers these questions, she reviews the data that help her answer them.

Once Lydia is satisfied with her answers, she organizes the information she has decided to share with Lin’s family. Then she begins to work on the development and learning sections of her staff-parent conference form. She writes a note to herself about possible next individual child goals and strategies for supporting Lin’s development and learning but leaves those sections blank. She and Lin’s family will talk about what’s next for Lin and decide on goals and strategies together during the conference.

[4]Dichtelmiller, The Power of Assessment, 184.