Measuring Head Start children’s early learning skills using teacher reports during the COVID-19 pandemic
We addressed three research questions to determine whether teacher reports of children’s approaches to learning and literacy skills can be used to measure aspects of children’s early learning skills when direct assessments are not available. First, we examined the measurement properties of the teacher-reported scales. We did this to determine whether the scales reliably measure the skills of children with varied abilities, and do not just reflect differences in how teachers use the scales (Box 1). We also examined whether there are different patterns in how teachers used the scales in spring 2020 when teachers were reporting during the COVID-19 pandemic when most Head Start centers were physically closed. Second, we examined the associations between the teacher-reported scales and assessor-reported cognitive/social behavior and directly assessed executive function and language and cognitive skills. This enabled us to determine whether the teacher-reported scales can be used as proxies for these skills. Third, we examined rater bias. Past research suggests that some teacher reports are associated with children’s background characteristics, as summarized earlier. If there is rater bias, it will be important to account for child background characteristics in analyses using the teacher-reported scales. (author abstract)
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