Misusing Terms

Throughout this blog series, I offer what I see as “simple solutions” to the mistakes being made in testing/assessing children in this age of accountability.

There at least 5 mistakes being made in early childhood assessment:

  1. Using the wrong tool for the job
  2. Adopting a narrow view of early development
  3. Misusing terms
  4. Engaging in standardized testing
  5. Neglecting to link key program elements

In this post we will look at the third mistake, which is misusing terms.

On a daily basis, I witness early childhood professionals and state leadership teams making decisions from assessment results. I hear people talking about how they will evaluate a teacher’s performance, whether or not children from a district are ready for Kindergarten, and if a program is meeting various quality indicators.

In these situations, I hear terms like correlated, standardized, universal, and formative, and to be honest, I often cringe, because terms are used with a great deal of authority and very little accuracy.

Again, don’t get me wrong, I know these terms can be confusing. Take for example, the different type of validity. You have construct, content, criterion, and concurrent…just to name a few.

That said, there are simple solutions that can lead to effective testing practices.

Simple Solutions:

  1. Educate self and other on what different terms mean. Start by downloading our B2K Fact Sheet that contains definitions of common terms.
  2. Access experts who likely live in your state to help you understand what different terms mean. If you aren’t sure who to reach out to, contact me any time.
  3. Don’t claim a tool or assessment process is helping to guide instruction if you don’t have evidence from those who use the tool that it actually meets that claim.

When we misuse assessment terms, the end result is the selection of inappropriate measurement tools, administration of tools without fidelity, misguided analysis and misinterpretation of assessment results, and ultimately decisions and actions that can negatively affect young children. We must be familiar with assessment terms and use them responsibly.

Have you ever misused an assessment term or witnessed someone else do so? How would you or have you tackled the misuse of assessment terms? Share you thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter using #b2kcoach.

More In This Series