Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Investigating Key Psychometric Properties of the French Version of the Early Years Evaluation-Teacher Assessment

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Education

Investigating Key Psychometric Properties of the French Version of the Early Years Evaluation-Teacher Assessment

Article excerpt

Introduction

Adapting seamlessly to the school environment at entry to kindergarten and achieving success in the first years of school is highly dependent on children's abilities, behaviours, and attitudes (Canadian Council on Learning-Conseil Canadien de l'Apprentissage [CCL-CCA], 2006). Research shows that differences in these traits during the early years can predict later school achievement (Cabell, Justice, Konold, & McGinty, 2011; McCartney, 2007). Children entering kindergarten already behind their peers typically fall further behind each passing year unless they receive early and targeted intervention and support. It is possible to alter children's poor growth trajectories, but identifying clearly and accurately where each individual child struggles along the continua of multiple developmental domains is central to providing the direct instruction needed to address achievement differences (Canadian Education Statistics Council [CESC], 2009). Early screening benefits all children, but vulnerable children in particular must have needs addressed at the earliest age possible if they are to have the best chance of overcoming difficulties (Doherty, 1997; Fox, Dunlap, & Cushing, 2002; Lyon et al., 2001).

Many education jurisdictions in Canada and internationally now collect diagnostic information on kindergarten children's development using standardized measures of assessment (e.g., Daily, Burkhauser, & Halle, 2010). Systematic and ongoing data collection and progress monitoring strategies are implemented at school entry so that social and cognitive issues, reading delays and any other problem areas are identified early in a child's developmental trajectory. The move to early and regular progress monitoring across multiple domains has marked a major shift in educational practice in recent years from the traditional wait-to-fail approach (Greenwood, Bradfield, Kaminski, Linas, Carta, & Nylander, 2011; Sloat, Beswick, & Willms, 2007). Rather than waiting for children to present with clearly established learning disabilities over subsequent years of schooling, the approach now is one of prevention, which relies on early problem identification and targeted intervention, so learning challenges can be corrected before they reach disabilities status (Greenwood et al., 2011).

In Canada, the Early Years Evaluation-Teacher Assessment (EYE-TA; The Learning Bar, 2016) is used in every province to screen kindergarten children for potential delays in five developmental domains foundational to early learning and overall success: (1) Awareness of Self and the Environment, (2) Social Skills and Behaviour, (3) Cognitive Abilities, (4) Language and Communication and (5) Physical Development. As a standardized assessment, the measure is effective because it provides a systematic framework for informing teachers' and administrators' decisions about the early learning and support needs of each child.

The EYE-TA, however, like many early childhood assessment instruments, is in English, and serves only English populations. In many provinces like Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, there are large francophone populations who need, and should be able, to benefit equally from early screening and instructional intervention and support, and yet few effective French standardized assessment measures exist (Thordardottir, Keheyia, Lessard, Sutton, & Trudeau, 2010). Some provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia) now use a French version of the EYE-TA, the Evaluation de la petite enfance-appreciation de l'enseignante (EPE-AE), to screen francophone kindergarten students. While the English EYE-TA has strong reliability and validity psychometric properties (KSI Research International, 2009), similar information is not known about the EPE-AE. This study fills this knowledge gap by investigating key psychometric properties of the EPEAE. …

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