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Tailored teaching: Teachers' use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction: Vol. I. Conceptual framework and measurement plan

In 2012, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation within the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, engaged Mathematica Policy Research and its partners to conduct a project titled "Assessing Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Child Progress Monitoring to Individualize Teaching Practices." The purpose of the project is twofold: (1) to develop a conceptual framework of early childhood teachers' use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction and (2) to create a measure to examine this process. Besides defining the key aspects of ongoing assessment and individualization, we are also seeking ways to efficiently examine how they are carried out. The ultimate goal is to help teachers conduct ongoing assessments, use the assessment data to "individualize" instruction for each child, and enhance their children's outcomes. We began by conducting a literature review (see Volume II of this report), using our findings to develop conceptual frameworks for ongoing assessment and individualization. These models focused on the two most common approaches to ongoing assessment used in early childhood classrooms: general outcomes measures and curriculum-embedded approaches. In each model, we identified several indicators of quality to consider when measuring how well a teacher used ongoing assessment to individualize instruction; these indicators served as the foundation for the development of a measurement tool called the Tool for Tailored Teaching (T3). This tool, once fully developed, will analyze how teachers use curriculum-embedded approaches to tailor instruction for specific children. The T3 will be a multi-method measure--that is, it will use several methods to gather data: a document review, video-based observations, and a one-hour teacher interview. Teachers will video-record their assessments over a two-to three-week period, followed by a one-day visit from researchers to conduct the document review, rate the videos, and interview the teachers. We will develop scoring systems for each data source, including holistic rubrics, ratings, and checklists. In the earliest stages of development, we will conduct an iterative pre-test to hone the T3 and assess its feasibility. The pre-test will consist of three rounds of data collection, ultimately including five centers and 10 classrooms that use ongoing assessment systems. Our findings from this study can fill a critical knowledge gap in the early childhood field, particularly in Head Start: how do teachers use ongoing, curriculum-embedded assessment approaches to deliver high-quality, individualized instruction? The T3 will reveal how teachers use these assessment data to understand children's development and to individualize their instruction. At first, the T3 will primarily be used by researchers to help Head Start staff and early childhood professionals understand how teachers use ongoing assessment. But eventually, teachers, mentors, and coaches will be able to use it to discern the strengths and weaknesses of their programs' ongoing assessment practices. This could ultimately lead to more effective practices in the classroom and better outcomes for children. (author abstract)
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Related resources include summaries, versions, measures (instruments), or other resources in which the current document plays a part. Research products funded by the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation are related to their project records.

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