The Importance of Authentic Assessments in Eligibility Determination for Infants and Toddlers

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Population changes, legislative changes, time and cost constraints, and practitioner and family perceptions each affect the delivery of early intervention services. This pilot project examined current evaluation practices used with the birth to 3 population. The role of norm-referenced and authentic assessment tools in the eligibility determination process was examined through a convenience sample of child–caregiver dyads and interdisciplinary practitioners. A majority of the children in the project were given a norm-referenced assessment along with authentic assessment measures. For more than half of those children, interpretation of the norm-referenced scores was questioned as standardized procedures could not be followed due to home language differences. Practitioners reported using authentic assessment information rather than norm-referenced data to derive developmental needs in nearly 80% of the children evaluated. The results of the pilot project provide a foundation for future study of evidence-based practices for norm-referenced and authentic assessment tool use with infants and toddlers.

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