Tailored Teaching: The Need for Stronger Evidence About Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Ongoing Assessment to Individualize Instruction

Early Childhood Teachers' Use of Ongoing Child Assessment to Individualize Instruction, OPRE Brief #2015-59
Publisher: Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research
Jun 30, 2015
Lauren Akers, Patricia Del Grosso, Sally Atkins-Burnett, Shannon Monahan, Kimberly Boller, Judith Carta, and Barbara A. Wasik

Key Findings:

  • ECE teachers’ use of ongoing assessment has not been extensively researched, and the research that does exist lacks scope and rigor.
  • Although more rigorous research is needed, a small body of evidence suggests a link between ongoing assessment and positive child outcomes.
  • Professionally recommended practices show promise in defining the critical steps involved in using ongoing assessment to tailor instruction, but we lack rigorous evidence.
  • Teachers might need support to overcome barriers to using ongoing assessment for individualization.

To learn more about the use of ongoing assessment in early education, the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation funded a project in fall 2012 to explore how teachers use children’s data to individualize instruction for each child. The project’s goals were to (1) develop a conceptual framework of early childhood education (ECE) teachers’ use of ongoing child assessment to individualize instruction and (2) create a measurement tool to examine this process. One component of the project is a review of the literature on ongoing assessment in early childhood. This review aims to provide insight on whether and how teachers use ongoing assessments to tailor their instruction. It also is intended to help develop criteria for determining the quality of teachers’ ongoing assessment practices. This brief summarizes the findings from the literature review and offers important next steps.


Using Progress Monitoring in Early Childhood Education: Assessing Methods and Developing an Evidence-Based Model


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Shannon Monahan
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Patricia Del Grosso
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Sally Atkins-Burnett
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