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Building strong foundations for educational achievement: Language assessments in early childhood education for deaf and hard of hearing children

It is widely accepted that assessment plays a role in monitoring the development of young children with special needs in early intervention/early childhood settings. The process of assessing young children's language skills often looks for delays within a solid language foundation. However, many children who are deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) may not have a solid language foundation to assess, leading to inaccurate assessment. When we reframe how we assess language skills in children who are DHH, we ensure the assessment provides a comprehensive picture of the child's language development. It is important to modify language assessment tools where necessary while ensuring the assessment stays reliable and valid. It is critical to use multiple assessment tools to monitor the child's progress, including standardized assessments and assessment tools normed for DHH populations. Finally, it is crucial to monitor the child's skills in each language that they are using, regardless of which language is used most often. We explain why each of these factors needs to be considered in the assessment of young children who are DHH, will discuss the challenges of assessing this population, and will provide solutions to some of the challenges of assessing language skills in of young children who are DHH. (author abstract)
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