Assessing and collecting data about young children’s development requires different methods and instruments from assessing older children. State leaders need to ensure that the data collected are appropriate, valid and reliable, using scientifically sound instruments. Collecting developmental data from multiple sources (e.g., observations and ratings by teachers, collecting samples of children’s work, and parent questionnaires) and assessing multiple skills, including social-emotional, physical, cognitive and linguistic development, and approaches to learning over time increases the validity of the findings. Data on child developmental outcomes allow ECE professionals to monitor child progress and quickly address concerns. Local ECE providers have used child-level development data formatively to tailor services and instruction for continuous improvement, but these efforts have occurred without coordinated data across state programs and systems. Teachers can use developmental history to tailor curricula and care to particular skill development, and policymakers can use the aggregated data to help improve programs. Information on child demographics and program participation connected to developmental data also allows stakeholders to understand how different children, including key subgroups, are progressing. States may evaluate, for example, whether children who are English language learners are progressing appropriately in all developmental domains and make any necessary adjustments to curriculum and ECE workforce training.
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