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Early Childhood Assessment and Its Features

The eleventh chapter of Overton’s (2016) book is titled “Special Considerations of Assessment in Early Childhood,” and it includes important notes regarding the assessment of children who are younger than schoolchildren. A variety of procedures and techniques can be used in order to assess this specific group of children. The purpose of this paper is to present a summary of the main ideas proposed by the author regarding this type of assessment.

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The evaluation of infants’ and toddlers’ abilities is the first important idea that is discussed in the chapter. Special services and associated assessments are oriented to those infants and toddlers who demonstrate delays in physical, cognitive, emotional, social, or communication development or who have certain physical or mental problems. According to Overton (2016), different states follow various policies regarding serving the needs of those children who are at risk for developmental delays because of the impact of biological or environmental factors, including diseases and social problems.

In order to address the needs of assessed infants and toddlers, it is necessary to develop an Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP). This plan should include certain components: a note regarding a child’s current level of development; a note regarding “the family’s resources, priorities, and concerns” related to a child; a note on the expected outcomes; a list of interventions; and the discussion of how the planned services can be provided (Overton, 2016, p. 351). In addition to describing an IFSP, Overton (2016) also pays attention to the issue of involving parents in assessment procedures. According to the author, the relationship between professionals and parents involved in the assessment should be “viewed as reciprocal rather than egalitarian” (Overton, 2016, p. 352). Therefore, the participation of parents in the assessment is determined according to professional requirements and recommendations.

A variety of assessment instruments can be used by evaluators in order to work with infants, toddlers, and young children. In addition to formal approaches to assessing young children, Overton (2016) also discusses such alternative methods as “play evaluations, arena assessment, interactive strategies, observations, situational questionnaires, and ecobehavioral interviews” (p. 365). The author notes that it is important to guarantee that “multiple measures, multiple examiners, and multiple situations or environments” can be involved in a procedure of assessment (Overton, 2016, p. 368). From this perspective, observations of children in natural environments and the use of games are effective methods to conduct necessary assessments.

After presenting the basic points regarding the assessment of children’s development, Overton (2016) discusses approaches to evaluating children’s phonemic awareness, as well as abilities of students with autism spectrum disorders. In order to work with these children, it is necessary to pay attention to their level of communication development, a level of interaction, and possible repetitive behaviors. The final ideas discussed by the author are related to the use of assistive technology in academic environments. According to Overton (2016), much attention should be paid to evaluating children’s abilities and assessing their levels of development in order to state what assistive technology can be used to contribute to children’s academic progress.

From this point, the eleventh chapter of Overton’s book covers the main issues related to the assessment of young children. According to the author, the process of assessing infants and toddlers is challenging. Therefore, educators and evaluators need to focus on professional recommendations, standards, and requirements in order to choose the most effective methods of assessment.


Overton, T. (2016). Assessing learners with special needs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

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