What's the difference in screening, assessment, and evaluation?
Screening. All children will be screened. A screening is a quick snapshot of a child's overall behavior and development. Screening should include making sure that children are up to date on their well-child health checks, and that they have been immunized. It also includes a developmental screening, a sensory screening (i.e., hearing and vision) as well as behavioral screening. Behavioral screening is often folded into the developmental screening tool, but sometimes it isn't. Screening is a great way for us to ensure that we have good baseline data. It helps parents engage in the process and support their children in getting services that they may need. After the screening, if no concerns are identified, the child is then assessed.
Assessment. Assessment is an ongoing examination of a child's development over time, to make sure the child is progressing and meeting milestones. As an ECE professional, assessment is something that you do throughout your daily life to ensure that the children in your program are receiving the kinds of educational opportunities that help them progress. An assessment provides information for planning and individualization. It occurs at the same time as health providers conduct developmental monitoring. Assessment may identify developmental concerns not identified in screening, which would then warrant an evaluation.
Evaluation. An evaluation is conducted to determine whether a child is eligible for services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The child would be evaluated to determine whether he would get an individual family service plan (IFSP) or an individualized education plan (IEP). The IFSP is for children under three; the IEP is for children three and older. There are times when the screening identifies a child who has some red flags but is not to the degree that you would want to refer. We'll talk a little more about how to make those decisions coming up later in the presentation. In those cases, assessment is what helps you determine whether you're going to refer the child. Things that don't pop up in the screening or are unclear in the screening will come up during an assessment. All children, whether they have an IFSP or an IEP, are going to be assessed and education services are going to be delivered to everyone.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Screening, Evaluation, and Assessment: A Guide for Administrators, by Amanda Schwartz, PhD.