6.5 Ongoing Assessment and Curriculum Planning


What Is It?

The grantee, with staff and parent input, selects the appropriate curriculum for each of its program options, including home-based option. All Head Start and Early Head Start programs are required to implement evidence-based curriculum(a) that matches the interests and values of their community and their program option. A curriculum provides a framework of experiences and environments with which to promote development. The staff also choose one or more evidence-based assessments with which to track the child’s progress, as well as measures to track the quality of parent–child interactions, home–visitor–parent interactions, or the quality of home visits and socializations overall. Managers and home visitors receive ongoing professional development in the use and analysis of these tools. Planning for each child is then individualized.

As the home visitor, you and the parents will observe and discuss the child’s interests, learning, and development at every visit. Together, you will note new skills and abilities in your ongoing assessment tool and see how the child’s learning and development are proceeding toward his/her school readiness goals. If concerns arise from ongoing assessment, you can discuss them together.

Using an evidence-based curriculum to provide guidance on interactions and experiences to achieve certain goals, you and the parents will use their everyday routines and the family’s and child’s interests as the context for learning.

Both the assessment tool and the curriculum need to address the five essential domains: (1) language and literacy development, (2) cognition and general knowledge, (3) approaches toward learning, (4) physical development and health, and (5) social and emotional development [§ 1307.3(b)(1)].

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 the 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 relationship between a research-based, age- and developmentally appropriate curriculum; the parents and your observations; and the family’s culture, language, routines, 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

This webinar discusses how to integrate data from assessments into daily experiences. Early Head Start staff also learn how to identify behavioral and developmental concerns observed while working with infants and toddlers.


This list of developmental screenings and assessment instruments was gathered through a review of infant mental health literature. Disability coordinators may use this information to address multiple developmental and social–emotional domains. The list includes a description, the age range for which the instrument was validated, and the scoring procedure.


Las hojas de consejos de Early Head Start no son documentos reguladores. Su propósito es brindar una base para el diálogo, la aclaración y la resolución de problemas entre el personal de Office of Head Start, las Oficinas Regionales y los concesionarios. Para mayor aclaración sobre las políticas y reglamentos de Head Start, póngase en contacto con el especialista del programa de su región. Le invitamos a visitar a menudo a esta página para ver si se han añadido hojas de consejos nuevas a la lista que aparece a continuación.


Initial screening of children, as mandated by the Head Start Program Performance Standards, is carried out to identify evidence of developmental, sensory, or behavioral disabilities. Teachers and disabilities specialists will value this discussion on the process to identify strengths, learning needs, and support that a child requires. Key concepts and guidelines are discussed in this issue of the journal.