Assessment is a process for answering specific questions about one or more aspects of a child’s knowledge, skills, behavior, personality, or readiness for the next level. In Pre-K, it is often a matter of determining if a child has met a certain criteria deemed necessary for kindergarten. To determine whether child is making progress toward meeting a certain goal or criterion, the teacher must know if the purpose of the assessment is to monitor the child’s progress after exposure to a particular curriculum or if the purpose is to determine if the child needs to be referred for a more comprehensive evaluation by a specialist.

Learn Every Day Much controversy surrounds the issue of the appropriateness of assessing young children, and most states have very specific requirements. Many states even require that a particular assessment be given to all children; in those that do not, programs may rely on the teacher’s knowledge and skills to determine the method of assessment. Typically, assessment is divided into two distinct categories: formal and informal. For the purposes of this curriculum, informal assessment is defined as a way of measuring a child’s progress by watching and recording the child’s behavior or by using such techniques as anecdotal records or a portfolio or collection of specific examples of a child’s work across time. In informal assessments, the child often is unaware that he is being observed and, therefore, is more likely to be authentic in his responses or behaviors.


Formal assessments, sometimes referred to as summative assessments, include such things as standardized tests and state assessments, whose scores are used for accountability or determination of readiness for the next level of education. They are certainly more structured in nature, and the child knows she is being observed. Although controversy exists about the appropriateness of a formal assessment in young children, they are widely used and often required by systems, programs, and states.

The recommended formal assessment for LEARN EVERY DAYTM: The Preschool Curriculum is the Learning Accomplishment Profile, 3rd edition (LAP-3). This formal assessment does not have to be given in one sitting and should be administered three times during the school year. The first administration, which may take up to 45 minutes, does not have to be done at one time. Once a baseline and ceiling have been obtained, the remaining administrations are usually quick and easily given.

The LAP-3 is a criterion-referenced assessment instrument for the 36–72 month age range, meaning it measures each child’s development or performance against a standard or criterion. Its ongoing-observation format allows teachers and/or clinicians to record a child’s progress and to introduce appropriate activities to support acquired and emerging skills in the domains of gross motor, fine motor, prewriting, cognitive, language, self-help, and social–emotional.