Last Updated 16 Jun 2020

Child Development: Overview

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Preschool students who are entering kindergarten are often expected to attend a screening session. My research focused on the qualities of a successful screening tool and how the tool is used to assist educators. I was curious to know if a screening tool provided enough information for educators to adequately balance classes during the process of placing incoming kindergarteners.

Placing students based on their academic and social needs gives teachers more time and opportunities to successfully teach to their students' strengths, challenges, and personalities. Finally, I was interested in researching which screening tools educators chose to use.

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Throughout my research I wanted to determine which areas of development were typically part of the preferred screening tools and to determine which areas were better predictors of academic achievement.


3Statement of IssueKindergarten screening is used to determine which students are at risk for developmental, behavioral, or academic difficulties. A kindergarten screening tool is designed to identify potential learning or behavioral difficulties before they increase in frequency, intensity, or duration after the student enters school.

Students who are identified can receive support from their school and families in a more timely and effective manner. The screening data also provides information that assists in the process of student placement into kindergarten classrooms.Literature ReviewSchool readiness, defined as social, emotional, and behavioral readiness to learn is a fundamental aspect of school success.

Screening students who are entering kindergarten can be beneficial in identifying which students are demonstrating school readiness and which students would benefit from additional support once they begin kindergarten. Determining whether or not to require incoming kindergarteners to participate in a screening session is a discussion between the kindergarten teachers, administration of the elementary school, guidance counselor, and curriculum coordinator.

The purpose may extend beyond the placement of students to include comparative data gathered to use in future discussions related to the students' progress.It is necessary to recognize the difference between the terms assessment and screening. While many people use these terms interchangeably, they have different purposes.

Given the growth in the use of screening and assessment practices to identify students at increased levels of risk, it is important to emphasize important distinctions between screening and assessment.


4Specifically, screening and assessment procedures differ in their purposes, features, and the types of tools used. School readiness screening measures would be administered to every child entering kindergarten. Stormant (2016) suggests that a true screening system should be brief, simple, and rely on easy to administer tools.

The purpose of assessment is to conduct a lengthy, in-depth, and thorough investigation. Invernizzi (2010) discusses the criteria for early literacy assessment in preschoolers assessment decisions. They must be broad-based, easy and efficient to administer and interpret, and provide immediate instructional benefits to teachers.

Along with deciding whether or not to participate, educators must choose which tool to use and what developmental areas to focus on. Educators can then create balanced classrooms and prepare supports for the students who showed a lack of school readiness based on the outcomes.

Steps can be taken to prepare these students for their entrance into kindergarten by providing summer programs and planning for ways of implementing instruction that offers extra support at the start of the school year for students who need it. RTI is a method of providing Tiered support for struggling students.

Kindergarten screening results can provide educators with a starting point of data. Interestingly, Seethaler (2010) advises that screening students who haven't been exposed to math concepts prior to attending school may give false information. She questioned that waiting until students have more time to be exposed to common math experiences might allow the students without prior exposure to number concepts time to 'catch up' to their peers.

In her research she also examined the single skill screener versus multiple skills screeners to determine potential mathematics difficulty in kindergarten students. Phonological Awareness is known to be a predictor of academic success in Literacy where Number Sense is a predictor of math success.  Bridges and Catts (2011) report that specifically,


5dynamic screening may be able to reduce the false positives associated with universal screening in the early school grades. Although preschool opportunities provide many children with literacy experience and instruction, a large number of children continue to enter kindergarten with limited literacy knowledge.

A lack of literacy knowledge at the beginning of kindergarten can affect performance on measures of phonological awareness and lead to children being identified as at risk for reading difficulties.The kindergarten screening process is a way to gauge a child's current functioning and growth.

It is a brief evaluation of several developmental domains of functioning in young children that typically takes place prior to the beginning of kindergarten. It can be an important prevention or early intervention tool to determine which young children are at risk for developmental, behavioral, or academic difficulties.

The areas of development that are most commonly evaluated during a screening are; Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Language, Concepts (Math, Phonological Awareness), Self-help Development, Social/Emotional Development, and Behavior.Conoyer (2016) advises when selecting screening tools, educational professionals must balance efficiency relative to predictive utility and diagnostic feedback.

While some may opt for a multi-skill measure with a longer administration time, others may prefer a brief screener that has sufficient predictive utility, and then administer diagnostic assessments to the smaller group of students identified in the initial screen.PALS-PreK is a scientifically-based phonological awareness and literacy screening that measures preschoolers' developing knowledge of important literacy fundamentals. The assessment reflects skills that are predictive of future reading success. It measures name writing,


6beginning sound awareness, print and word awareness, rhyme and nursery rhyme awareness, and alphabet knowledge. Phonological awareness refers to the ability to pay attention to, identify, and manipulate sound units within spoken words.As stated by McWayne (2011), the K-ABR is a teacher rating screener that includes three items to screen children in need of academic and/or behavior support.

The specific items comprising the K-ABR include (1) "Compared to other students in this school, how was this child's readiness for the behavioral expectations of kindergarten," (2) "Compared to other students in this school, how was this child's academic readiness for kindergarten," and (3) "Compared to other students in this school, how was this child's overall readiness for kindergarten.

"Kokkalia (2017) explains that the DIAL–4 is an appropriate screening tool for children ages 2.6 years to 5.11 years. The tool is individually administered but is appropriate for use in environments where large kindergarten screenings occur, taking approximately 25-35 minutes per child to administer.

Each of five performance areas is scored on a behavior (psychological and social) rating scale. Behaviors are observed during the screening process to help determine if further assessment is needed. This tool offers comprehensive information in five performance areas; Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Language, Concepts, Self-help Development, Social Development.

This is the tool that my school district has chosen to implement this year for the first time.Hamm (2014) describes a program called KidSkills whose goal is to meet the principles of RTI and illustrate the effectiveness of elementary teachers and specialists teaming up to systematically examine student needs. Collaborative models such as this one aim to support


7student achievement. Multiple perspectives from various areas of expertise offer strategies that collectively support the whole child. Early screening, systematic data collection, collaboration, and a strong home- school partnership are key components of this program that can be replicated in a variety of settings and possibly generalized to other academic areas.

The program provides kindergarten students with targeted small-group instruction once a week focusing on phonemic awareness, language and vocabulary development, literacy skills, and fine motor and perceptual skills.ConclusionThe methods used to perform kindergarten screenings are often in question.

Educators discuss if preschool students are capable of accurately sharing what they know with individuals they have just met in a school setting that may cause anxiety in some children. Early Childhood educators may disagree with some of the developmental areas on the screening tools.

Teachers may assume that children come to kindergarten with the prerequisite fine motor and perceptual skills to practice letter formation. Kindergarten screening tools may not pick up on the subtle needs experienced by some children that will make letter formation difficult. Assessing and addressing visual–motor skills is an essential predictor of academic achievement.

As stated by Conoyer (2016), early identification of students at risk in mathematics is limited in value if educators are unable to evaluate and adjust their instructional programs to effect improved mathematics achievement.Further research to explore how the information gathered during kindergarten screeners should be examined and compared to future student assessments. Academic predictors could be evaluated in more detail and more data should be gathered in order to follow student progress

Running head: BENEFITS OF SCREENING INCOMING KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS 8throughout the elementary years. Continuing to check in with classroom teachers to find out if the classes ended up being successfully 'balanced' would be of interest to my research of kindergarten screening usefulness.

Each year students enter kindergarten with varying levels of maturity, attention, and exposure to academic concepts. Acknowledging this and proceeding without biases when examining the data collected is essential to the child's future school career.

Child Development: Overview essay

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