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Assessment is broadly defined as a systematic process for gathering information to make an informed decision. An integral part of early childhood programs, it uses observation, interviews, tests, and other techniques to collect information about children, families, classrooms, and programs. Assessment includes both formal approaches such as standardized tests and more informal processes such as portfolios and conversations with other caregivers. Both approaches are valuable as decision-making tools, but like any tool, they have strengths and limitations. Limitations of assessments are features that reduce proper application and interpretability—in essence, features that impair the ability to use an assessment tool to produce useful, meaningful, and accurate information. Factors to consider when judging the appropriate use of an assessment include the purpose or goal of assessment, the ...

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