Controversy Surrounding Preschool Children Assessment
Assessing young children in preschool remains a very controversial topic due to a variety of factors. The misuse of assessment in the past, for example, can not be overlooked. The use of pen and paper testing has left a legacy of misconception and misunderstanding of the term "assessment", which remains for some, associated to stress and pejorative labeling, and which highlights differences while not always being reliable.
Moreover, assessing preschool children is particularly difficult in comparison to assessing other age groups. Their short attention span, their likely distractibility, their inconsistent performance in different environments, and when strangers are present etc, are bound to impact on their behavior and attitude to "doing" and potentially learning (Vacc & Ritter, 1995; Mc Cauley, 2004). Formal assessment conditions are prone to sometimes give a distorted picture of children's real abilities.
Avoiding Misconception and Misunderstanding of Assessment
Much research has been done in the field of assessing young children in preschool (or in other early years settings), and different types of assessment purposes and methods have been rightly distinguished. Two essential conditions prior to assessing should be fulfilled: Assessment methods should be mindful of children's developmental stage, and assessment should be carried out only if, and when, it is known to be beneficial to the children assessed (Shepard, 1994).