Go to Top

CEELO Resources – Assessment

States are working to build comprehensive early childhood assessment systems to answer key questions about young children’s learning and development and the effectiveness of early childhood programs. Research and best practice will help states as they make decisions and provide leadership in developing, adopting and providing guidance on assessment of children, programs, and educators; providing professional development on how to administer and use the results of assessments; and supporting timely, useful reporting of assessment data to early childhood programs, teachers, families, school districts and state policymakers.

CEELO publishes a range of material on assessment in the early learning space. See below for our resources listed alphabetically. To view CEELO Resources by publication type, click here. For other assessment resources, click here.

All CEELO Resources on Assessment


Assessment Tools Used in Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) is a national scan on the current assessment tools that are used in states to assess the development of children at kindergarten entry. (January 2017, FastFact)

Building a Comprehensive and Aligned Assessment System for all Children: Birth to Kindergarten reviews program requirements related to assessment, a comprehensive framework for aligned assessment, and recommended practices. Jim Squires presented with Mary McLean (Head Start National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning/University of Florida) and Catherine Scott-Little (UNC-Greensboro) at the 2015 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute. (May 2015, Presentation)

Considerations for ‘Rebranding’ Kindergarten Readiness Assessment explores the branding of kindergarten readiness assessments in different states. It examines how states developed their early childhood assessment systems and the funds that have supported the development and implementation of assessments. Also included is the name and description of the instrument or system used for kindergarten readiness assessment in six states.  (June 2014, Fast Fact)

Definitions and Approaches to Measuring Reading Proficiency reviews selected resources on national and state definitions of literacy and reading to inform a state definition of reading proficiency. This information can be helpful to guide efforts to ensure all children are supported in developmentally appropriate literacy and reading skills. The resource identifies national and state approaches to measuring reading proficiency.  (July 2014, Fast Fact)

Diane Dodge on Formative Assessment provides guidance on how teachers can use assessment to improve their work with young children. This message was presented to early childhood specialists attending CEELO’s 2013 Roundtable Conference in San Francisco.  (June 2013, Video)

Don’t Just Do the Assessment, Look at It examines examples and challenges in using assessment data, discuss what data can tell us about teaching and learning, and offers resources on using assessment data. CEELO’s Tom Schultz gave this presentation to the New Jersey Early Childhood Academy.  (May 2014, Presentation)

ECEC Evaluation: What Can We Learn from the Past? provides information on maximizing policy of research and evaluation. It discusses the Perry Preschool Study, the Nurse Family Partnership, and NJ Abbott pre-K program. It concludes with lessons learned for program evaluation. The slides were presented by CEELO’s Steve Barnett at the Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years in Amsterdam.  (July 2014, Presentation)

Early Childhood Assessment highlights resources on CEELO’s website on topics related to early childhood assessment, including policy reports, FastFacts, webinars, and videos.  (May 2014, Annotated Bibliography)

Early Childhood Teachers in State Educator Evaluation Systems offers resources on observations of teacher practice, student learning and growth, professional development, legislation and policy guidance, and national resources to support early childhood teachers in state teacher evaluation systems.  (July 2014, Annotated Bibliography)

Focus on Formative Assessment, jointly sponsored by CEELO and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance (ECTA) Center, presents critical information for states as they engage in activities to improve the quality of teaching and learning through supporting formative assessment processes. (October 2013, Webinar).

Formative Assessment: Guidance for Early Childhood Policymakers serves as a guide and framework to early childhood policymakers considering formative assessment, outlining issues for consideration in implementing formative assessment.This guide provides a practical roadmap for decision-makers by offering several key questions to consider in the process of selecting, supporting, and using data to inform and improve instruction.  (April 2014, Policy Report)

How are Early Childhood Teachers Faring in State Teacher Evaluation Systems? provides state leaders and technical assistance providers with information about the design and requirements of teacher evaluations systems for early childhood teachers in 11 states. The report discusses the approach each state is taking to adapt the state system and develop resources for early childhood teachers. It identifies specific opportunities and challenges state leaders are addressing in implementing student learning objectives as an alternative method of measuring early childhood teachers’ contributions to children’s learning. The report concludes with questions for further research and recommendations for state policy makers.  (March 2014, Policy Report) Full Report | Executive Summary

If Kindergarten Entry Assessments are the Answer, What is the Question? explains why KEAs make a unique contribution to comprehensive early childhood assessment system, highlights state KEA approaches (adopt, adapt, develop), and identifies key issues for states. CEELO’s Tom Schultz gave this presentation to the Arizona Early Literacy Advisory Board.  (April 2013, Presentation)

Implementing a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) System is an analysis and summary of five states’ (CO, NJ, NM, MD, and WA) lessons learned and advice on KEA implementation, communication, professional development and reporting. (March 2017, FastFact)

Inclusion of Pre-Kindergarten and Other Early Childhood Staff in State Teacher Evaluation Systems provides a snapshot of the number of states that include pre-kindergarten teachers in state teacher evaluation systems. It also provides additional information related to infant/toddler and other early childhood staff.  (February 2014, Fast Fact)

Information and Resources on Developing State Policy on Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA): UPDATE-This Fast Fact is an update of the February 2014 Fast Fact which provides  information on how other states are approaching the development and implementation of KEA as part of a comprehensive assessment system. (June 2017, Updated fromFastFact below)

Information and Resources on Developing State Policy on Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEA) provides information about KEA measures used by other states, the processes states have used to develop their KEA state policy, and how states are supporting the training and professional development of practitioners and administrators in various settings.  (February 2014, Fast Fact)

KEA Checkpoints for Observing and Assessing Kindergarten Children offers responses from state contacts on the NAECS-SDE listserv, who were asked about their kindergarten entry assessment and checkpoint dates. Because kindergarten is such a formative time in a child’s education and life, it is imperative for teachers to have a good understanding of where individual children are in their development, as well as the class as a whole. (August 2017, NAECS-SDE Listserv Summary)

Key Considerations to Assist States in Developing or Revising a Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) Report is the result of a request from two states for technical assistance to support the selection and revision of the state’s Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEA’s). Given that this is a national topic of interest, the Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) summarized what we gathered to provide other states with this relevant and useful information. (December 2017, Policy Brief)

Kindergarten Entry Assessments: Helping Teachers and State Policy Leaders Improve Learning Opportunities and Outcomes for Young Children discusses opportunities and implementation challenges in states and features presentations from Arizona, Iowa, Missouri, and Nevada on the implementation of KEA in each state. These presentations were given by CEELO’s Tom Schultz and representatives from states at the 2014 NAEYC Professional Development Institute.  (June 2014, Presentation).

Life After Pre-K: Looking at Kindergarten Assessment presents material to understand the components of a statewide comprehensive assessment system for all children birth to kindergarten, identify the current status of kindergarten assessments as well as commonalities/variations across states and challenges in developing kindergarten entrance assessments, identify challenges and opportunities for including children with disabilities in statewide assessments, and understand the experiences of the State of North Carolina in implementing a kindergarten assessment. Jim Squires presented with Cindy Bagwell (NC Department of Public Instruction), Mary McLean (Head Start National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning/University of Florida) and Catherine Scott-Little (UNC-Greensboro) at the 2015 National Early Childhood Inclusion Institute. (May 2015, Presentation)

Making PreK-3rd Grade Assessments Matter was presented by Tom Schultz at the National Association of Elementary School Principals Conference in Long Beach, CA on June 30th with co-panelists Kristie Kauerz from the University of Washington and Cindy Bagwell from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. The presentation was part of a strand of sessions to highlight NAESP’s initiative to build the leadership capacity of their members in early childhood education, based on their recent publication Leading Pre-K-3 Learning Communities: Competencies for Effective Principal Practice. (June 2015, Presentation)

Measuring Child Outcomes in the Early Years provides information to inform decision-making regarding the assessment of young children’s learning, development, and wellbeing (LDWB) for state and national assessments designed to influence early childhood education (ECE) policy and practice. This report draws from a scholarly discussion paper The National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) produced for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that presented the pros and cons of various instruments used for reporting on international data of children’s cognitive and social outcomes. (November 2015, Policy Brief)

Quality Rating Improvement System (QRIS) Validation Study Designs provides information on what steps states are taking, that have received Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge funding, to design their validation studies to inform their approach to validation studies. (July 2013, Fast Fact)

Resources to Inform Technical Assistance on Formative Assessment gives recommendations about research and practical resources to inform technical assistance conducted with state education staff on Formative Assessment.  (July 2013, Fast Fact)

State Approaches to Evaluating Preschool Programs presents guidance for state policy makers for evaluating the quality and effects of a preschool program. The information here will be valuable as states consider monitoring for program quality and continuous improvement as well as conducting a program evaluation for effectiveness. (June 2015, Short Take)

State Early Childhood Comprehensive Assessment System: Mapping and Priority Setting Tools (Word) (PDF). Part 1 of this tool is designed to assist State Teams in mapping the current status of efforts to implement a comprehensive assessment system for children from birth through 3rd grade and teacher/classroom and program assessment and evaluation. Part 2 is designed to assist State Teams in setting priorities for planning, implementing and sustaining initiatives in their comprehensive assessment system in the coming year.  (September 2013, Tool)

State of the States Policy Snapshot: State Early Childhood Assessment Policies addresses the questions: What child assessments are required of pre-K and Kindergarten providers? How are child assessment data used? The brief is based primarily on secondary analysis of data collected in the NIEER State of Preschool Yearbook and presents a snapshot of responses to questions about child assessment. (March 2014, Policy Brief)

State of the States Policy Snapshot: State Pre-K Monitoring and Evaluation Policies discusses why evaluation and monitoring systems are important for quality early education and the data states collect to monitor and evaluate pre-k program (November 2013, Policy Report)

Sue Bredekamp on Formative Assessment aims to deepen understanding of using assessment as a resource to improve the work teachers do in early childhood education. This message was presented to early childhood specialists attending CEELO’s 2013 Roundtable Conference in San Francisco.  (June 2013, Video)

Tapping Teacher Evaluation Using Child-Level Data to Improve Teaching for All highlights research and tools to help states design their teacher evaluation system. CEELO’s Lori Connors-Tadros and Jana Martella gave this presentation at the DaSy Early Childhood Conference.  (September 2014, Presentation)

Tool to Guide Decisions Regarding Kindergarten Entry Assessment (KEA) Selection and Implementationis designed to assist in the process of selecting, revision, or implementing a KEA. States have requested technical assistance to help with the Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEA’s) decision-making process. The Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO) drafted the tool and facilitated a stakeholder engagement process using the tool. (December 2017, Tool)

Using Assessment to Improve Teaching and Learning for Young Children Birth Through Third Grade  offers helpful resources on assessment from the 2013 CEELO Roundtable. (see “Presentations” and “Resources” tabs).  (June 2013, Conference Materials)

Using Assessments to Improve Transitions to Kindergarten features nationally known experts in discussion on how to integrate KEAs into a comprehensive assessment system and how to use the data to inform teaching practices. State departments of education presenters also highlight practical strategies they are using to assess a child’s school readiness and adjust instruction to help bridge any gaps. This webinar was co-sponsored by the Regional Education Laboratory (REL) Northwest. Presenters include CEELO’s Jana Martella and Tom Schultz, along with Jacqueline Jones (Foundation for Child Development), John Pruette (Office of Early Learning, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction), and Fiona Helsel (REL Northwest).  (November 2014, Webinar)

Using Teaching Strategies GOLD® within a Kindergarten Entry Assessment System originates from a state request for information on how other states are using Teaching Strategies assessment tool GOLD® to measure kindergarten readiness. Nine states use GOLD® in various degrees as a KEA.  Lesson learned from the states and links to state resources are available. (October 2016, FastFact)

Using Data to Drive Literacy Instruction K-3 provides an overview of the formative assessment cycle, demonstrates the role of standards in assessment, interprets examples of data to inform instruction, and highlights the connection between assessment and instruction. Shannon Riley-Ayers presented this material at the Wisconsin “UnConference” of Early Literacy.  (April 2013, Presentation)