Early Childhood Assessment

Early childhood assessment, as part of a comprehensive assessment system, is designed to use developmentally appropriate measures to inform the learning process.

The R.I. Department of Education is committed to developing a comprehensive assessment system, aligned with the internationally benchmarked standards that will provide data to inform curriculum and instructional decisions at the State, LEA, school, and program levels. The goal of Rhode Island’s existing comprehensive assessment system at the PreK-12 level is to increase student learning by producing actionable information that informs the learning process in addition to providing data to evaluate the effectiveness of programs and ensuring that all students are making progress toward achieving important learning objectives.

While the purposes of assessment in early childhood classrooms and schools are the same as those for older children, the design of a comprehensive assessment system in early childhood is necessarily different because of the age of the child. Assessment of children in this age range is significantly impacted by the nature of the young child. Early childhood development and learning is rapid, episodic, and highly influenced by experience. In the preschool and early elementary years, rates of development in all areas outpace growth rates at any other time and because children develop and learn so rapidly, assessments given at one point in time might not give a complete picture of a child’s abilities. (Comprehensive Assessment System)

Kindergarten Entry Assessment


One key component to understanding children’s development in the early years is a kindergarten entry assessment. In response to recommendations from the RI Early Learning Council, and as a result of receiving a Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant, RIDE is prioritizing the development of a kindergarten entry assessment with the purpose of guiding instruction and providing information regarding the status of children at the population level.

Creating a high-quality, comprehensive, statewide kindergarten assessment system will help to improve connections and strengthen alignment between the state’s early childhood education system and the K-3 education system. A kindergarten assessment system will help us understand the skills and knowledge of children entering Rhode Island kindergarten classrooms and will help to direct resources to increase young children’s access to high-quality, effective early learning programs. (RI ELC, Kindergarten Assessment Recommendations)

RIDE has partnered with Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) to conduct a survey in order to gain a better understanding of current kindergarten entry practices across the state. This includes supports schools provide to families as children enter kindergarten, as well as any assessments conducted or other data collected as children transition into kindergarten programs. We are asking each administrator responsible for kindergarten programs to complete the survey. RIDE will use the information to inform the development of a new Kindergarten Entry Assessment tool.

The survey should be completed by the administrator or curriculum coordinator most familiar with your school's current policies and practices around kindergarten entry. A link to the survey has been sent directly to school and district leaders, however a copy of the survey is provided below. The data will go directly to EDC who will analyze the data and report findings to RIDE. The results of the study will be available this fall.

Teaching Strategies GOLD Progress Checkpoints Assessments


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 included a heightened emphasis on accountability, focused on improving educational results for children with disabilities. As a result, the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) now requires that each state measure the percent of preschool children with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who demonstrate improvement in three outcome areas: positive social-emotional skills, acquisition and use of knowledge and skills, and use of appropriate behaviors to meet needs.

Rhode Island recognizes the importance of having a comprehensive early childhood curriculum and assessment system and has worked to implement systems and procedures for assessing child outcomes in the Early Childhood Outcomes Project. Teaching Strategies GOLD™ was selected as the tool for measuring child outcomes, not only because it meets federal data collection and reporting requirements, but also because it provides a research-driven, criterion-based tool that utilizes authentic assessment practices; is aligned the Rhode Island Early Learning Standards; and can be used to inform instruction which prepares children for school success both academically and socially. The use of Teaching Strategies GOLD™ allows special education teams to measure the three outcomes within a comprehensive assessment process informed by families and community partners that improves teaching and learning.

Outcome assessment data is reported to RIDE by Local Education Agencies (LEAs). Based on the comparison of entry and exit assessment data, RIDE aggregates the date and reports the following outcomes to OSEP:
  1. Percent of preschool children who did not improve functioning
  2. Percent of preschool children who improved functioning but not sufficient to move nearer to functioning comparable to same-aged peers
  3. Percent of preschool children who improved functioning to a level nearer to same-aged peers but did not reach it
  4. Percent of preschool children who improved functioning to reach a level comparable to same-aged peers
  5. Percent of preschool children who maintained functioning at a level comparable to same-aged peers
Early childhood outcomes data provides each state, district and program, as well as OSEP, with information to demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of early childhood special education. Additionally, child outcomes data can inform program improvement and professional development initiatives at national, state, district, program and classroom levels.

For more information, go to www.ride.ri.gov/EC-Special-Education.

Contact Information

Office of Instruction, Assessment and Curriculum

Email Judi Stevenson-Garcia
RTT-ELC Education Specialist, Assessment
Phone 401-222-8176

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