Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Preliminary Evidence of the Technical Adequacy of the Preschool Numeracy Indicators

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Preliminary Evidence of the Technical Adequacy of the Preschool Numeracy Indicators

Article excerpt

Abstract. Given the potential long-term outcomes of poorly developed mathematical skills, there is a need to understand the emergence and development of these skills in the context of improving educational experiences and ensuring better outcomes for preschoolers. The purpose of this article is to describe preliminary reliability and validity evidence supporting the Preschool Numeracy Indicators (PNIs), which are tasks for the assessment of number skills during the preschool years. Results from a sample of 3- to 6-year-old children (N = 163) attending preschool and Head Start programs revealed (a) evidence of test-retest reliability, (b) evidence that the four PNIs measure the same construct, (c) evidence of age-related differences in PNIs scores, and (d) evidence that the PNIs demonstrate external relations with scores from three test batteries measuring mathematics and number skills and other preacademic skills. Implications focus on the use of the PNIs for screening purposes, and future research is described.

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The general outcome measurement (GOM) approach includes methods for formative evaluation of student progress toward long-term goals through the use of reliable and valid measures of targeted skills tied to the curriculum and representing valued educational goals (Fuchs & Deno, 1991). Perhaps the most well-researched GOM system is curriculum-based measurement (CBM; Deno, 1985). CBM assessment tasks include those targeting general reading achievement, reading comprehension, mathematics computation, spelling, and written expression, and there is a sizable body of reliability and validity evidence supporting the use and interpretation of most of these measures as well as evidence supporting their utility in school settings (see Shinn, 1989, 1998; Shapiro, 2005).

Because of the research supporting the use of CBM with school-age children, additional research has been directed at developing similar measurement systems for younger children. Such systems would allow for monitoring of skill development at the earliest points possible and facilitate timely early intervention to prevent learning difficulties. Most notably, the University of Kansas, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Oregon collaborated to produce a measurement system for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary students (Early Childhood Research Institute on Measuring Growth and Development, 1998a, 1998b). Currently, this group has developed measures for several domains, including expressive communication (Luze et al., 2001), social skills (Carta, Greenwood, Luze, Cline, & Kuntz, 2003), early literacy (Good & Kaminski, 2002; McConnell, Priest, Davis, & McEvoy, 2002), and movement (Greenwood, Luze, Cline, Kuntz, & Leitschuh, 2002).

GOMs for Mathematics and Number Skills

There is a need to understand more fully the emergence and growth of mathematics and number skills as young children develop in order to improve educational experiences and to ensure better outcomes for all children (Gersten & Jordan, 2005; Jitendra, 2005). Despite this need, research examining assessment tasks focusing on mathematics and number skills has been limited, even for CBM (Shapiro, 2005). Research including such tasks that target preschoolers has been even more limited. To provide a summary of the existing assessment tasks developed from a GOM framework that tap into mathematics and number skills and to gain insights into measurement of such skills in preschoolers, a comprehensive literature search was conducted to identify peer-reviewed journal articles that have included such tasks (Cooper, 1998; Lipsey & Wilson, 2001). Based on this search, 18 peer-reviewed, published studies were identified that included mathematics and number skills tasks that were either (a) the foci of the study or (b) used as GOMs in intervention research. (1) Of these 18 studies, 11 included only children who were of school age (Grade 1 and higher). …

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