Dorothy Bishop wrote this interesting post on the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile, which was developed by the UK’s government’s Standards and Testing Agency “to support practitioners in making accurate judgements about each child’s attainment”.
Professor Bishop does has some important issues with it:
This is seriously problematic for at least reasons. First, it means we are using flawed assessments that will over-identify problems in younger children. It is already established that in the USA attentional deficits are over-diagnosed in summer-born children (Elder, 2010) – a problem that has long-term consequences when children are subsequently prescribed medication for what may actually normal behaviour in an immature child. Making children feel that they are falling short of an expected standard before they are 5 years old cannot be good for their development. In this regard it is noteworthy that there is evidence that being summer-born continues to be associated with educational disadvantage in English children through the later school years (Crawford et al, 2013).
A second problem is that use of inappropriate criteria for ‘expected’ levels of development will give a false impression of the numbers of children with developmental difficulties. Consider this article describing an ‘early learning crisis’ with ‘20 percent of children unable to communicate properly at age 5′. I have a particular interest in children who have language difficulties, but nobody is helped by over-identifying problems in children who are just the youngest in their class. I’ve seen enough 4 and 5-year-olds to know that the ‘early learning goals’ for understanding and speaking are not realistic ‘expectations’ for 4-year-olds and for those who have only just turned 5 years. Indeed, the fact that one third of the oldest children are not regarded as having a good level of development suggests to me that the expectations are inappropriately high even for the oldest 5-year-olds.