to Make Instructional Decisions
In this chapter we discuss methods of assessing young children's literacy development that are particularly appropriate for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. We recommend assessment tasks that are designed to measure children's literacy learning in six critical areas of early literacy development. However, we also recommend that teachers systematically and frequently observe children as they interact in centers and during instruction.
Experiences provided every day in preschool and kindergarten have enormous potential to support language and literacy development. However, in order for this to happen, teachers need to know each child's level of development and how to provide instruction that will nudge that child forward toward conventional reading and writing. Having a precise understanding of children's current language and literacy development is especially critical for at-risk children in order provide the personalized instruction that will accelerate their learning and development.
Assessment is especially important in making instructional decisions for children from diverse backgrounds. Such children are likely to come to preschool or kindergarten with different understandings about the nature of print and its use depending on their family and cultural experiences. These concepts, like the concepts of all young children, are not likely to be conventional. For example, one preschool teacher observed that Tatie, a bilingual Haitian child who was not yet 3 years old, was walking around the classroom making the shape of the letter T with two fingers. When the teacher asked her what she