Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Sensitivity to Growth over Time of the Preschool Numeracy Indicators with a Sample of Preschoolers in Head Start

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

Sensitivity to Growth over Time of the Preschool Numeracy Indicators with a Sample of Preschoolers in Head Start

Article excerpt

Abstract. There has been increased attention to the development of measures for assessing mathematical skill and knowledge in young children. Most of the evidence supporting these measures is consistent with Stage 1 research in the development of progress monitoring measures (Fuchs, 2004) and consists of investigation of technical features of performance at one point in time. The purpose of the current study was to move into Stage 2 research and examine sensitivity to growth over time of the Preschool Numeracy Indicators (PNIs; Floyd, Hojnoski, & Key, 2006) in a sample of Head Start preschoolers through a longitudinal design. Results indicated the PNI Oral Counting Fluency, One-to-One Correspondence Counting Fluency, Number Naming Fluency, and Quantity Comparison Fluency task scores are sensitive to growth over time and provide preliminary support for the promise of such measures in assessing early mathematical skill development. Consideration is given to implications for assessing early mathematical skill development in the context of general outcome measurement.

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There has been increased attention to the development of measures for assessing mathematical skill in young children (e.g., Chard et al., 2005; Clarke, Baker, Smolkowski, & Chard, 2008; Floyd, Hojnoski, & Key, 2006; Methe, Hintze, & Floyd, 2008; Reid, Morgan, DiPerna, & Lei, 2006; VanDerHeyden, Broussard, & Cooley, 2006). Evidence is building to warrant such attention (e.g., National Mathematics Advisory Panel, 2008; National Center for Education Statistics, 2007) as mathematical skill appears critical to later school success. A recent meta-analysis of six longitudinal data sets suggests that mathematical skill at kindergarten entry is a strong predictor of later academic achievement, stronger than reading skills, attentional skills, or social behavior at kindergarten entry (Duncan et al., 2007). This suggests early mathematical competency is a primary target in improving academic achievement, and thus an important area for early identification and intervention.

Effective assessment practices play a critical role in promoting early identification and intervention in the development of mathematical competency. Assessment tools specifically designed for young children and targeting elements thought to provide a foundation for later success can provide data about acquisition of key skills as well as growth over time to inform effective instruction and intervention. In response to the limitations of more traditional early childhood assessment practices, curriculum-based assessment approaches are increasingly being applied to the assessment of growth and development in very young children with significant potential for improving outcomes (Bagnato, 2005; McConnell, 2000; VanDerHeyden, 2005; VanDerHeyden & Snyder, 2006).

General Outcome Measurement

Curriculum-based assessment can be conceptualized as the umbrella term for a number of assessment approaches characterized by key features of authenticity, instructional and intervention utility, reliability and validity, sensitivity to growth over time, and decision-making utility (Hintze, 2008). Within the larger domain of curriculum-based assessment, assessment approaches can be grouped as either specific subskill mastery measurement or general outcome measurement (GOM). Although both specific subskill mastery measurement and GOM approaches reflect the key features of curriculum-based assessment, there is a distinct difference in the development and content of each type of assessment. Whereas subskill mastery assessments typically and comprehensively sample a domain or hierarchy of skills that reflect an instructional sequence, in GOM a limited number of key skills are selected for measurement from the universe of possible skills and used as an indicator of global performance (Fuchs & Deno, 1991; Greenwood, Walker, Carter, & Higgins, 2006). …

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