Academic journal article School Psychology Review

The Validity of the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale with Urban, Low-Income Kindergarten Children

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

The Validity of the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale with Urban, Low-Income Kindergarten Children

Article excerpt

Abstract. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the Penn Interactive Peer Play Scale (PIPPS), a teacher-rating instrument of interactive play behaviors for early childhood, was valid for urban, low-income children in kindergarten. The PIPPS demonstrated construct validity, and yielded three dimensions of interactive peer play: Play Interaction, Play Disruption, and Play Disconnection. These constructs were congruent with the dimensions found for preschool children. Concurrent validity was demonstrated with a standardized instrument assessing global social skills and academic competence. Children who displayed highly interactive peer play were given high ratings by teachers for social skills and were ranked higher in the class for academic competence. Those children who were disruptive or disconnected in play were viewed by teachers as having more problem behaviors and had lower academic achievement as compared to their peers. The PIPPS also was found to have predictive validity to first grade aca demic performance. Children who were reported by their teachers to have effective peer interactions during play had higher teacher ratings of academic success than children who were considered disruptive or disconnected in play. Implications for policy and practice in early childhood are discussed.

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As early childhood programs strive to ensure educational success for diverse groups of children, quality assessment measures are needed to guide the development of appropriate educational programs and interventions in preschool and kindergarten. Assessment instruments can identify children's strengths and needs, to assist schools with meeting individual children's needs and with monitoring children's progress (Carlton & Winsler, 1999; Shepard, Kagan, & Wurtz, 1998). These tools can also inform the curriculum, by indicating realistic and attainable goals for children at particular developmental levels (Shepard et al.). Moreover, assessment measures can provide a means of communication between school settings, to share information across multiple informants in an effort to provide continuity across critical transition periods (Carlton & Winsler).

However, these instruments must also meet certain psychometric criteria (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education [AERA, APA, & NCME], 1999). A particularly important criterion is the demonstration of validity, which indicates that the measure assesses what it was intended to assess (AERA, APA, & NCME). In addition, assessment measures should demonstrate sensitivity to cultural backgrounds and experiences, to ensure that children are appropriately evaluated (AERA, APA, & NCME).

Efforts to develop appropriate assessment methods in preschool and kindergarten must place a high priority on salient developmental competencies that contribute to school success in young children. School readiness encompasses multiple domains of functioning that affect children's development and learning (Kagan, Moore, & Bredekamp, 1995). These domains include social and emotional development, language development, cognition and general knowledge, approaches toward learning, and physical well-being and motor development. Among these domains of development, the acquisition of peer social competence is a particularly important aspect of school readiness. Mastery of this competency facilitates children's academic and social success as they begin their school career and in. subsequent years of school. Children who demonstrate social competence are more likely to have positive perceptions of school, increased school involvement, and higher levels of academic achievement. The adjustment to kindergarten is enhanced by the support that socially competent children receive from classmates (Ladd, 1990; Ladd, Kochenderfer, & Coleman, 1996; Ladd & Price, 1987). …

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