Early childhood

The Issue

UNICEF in Action

Resources on Early Childhood Development


School Readiness Outcomes

© UNICEF/McConnico/2011

Good quality ECE services may reduce the risk factors rooted in poverty.

Measuring child outcomes helps accelerate action in terms of efficient policies for ECE services and apply new understanding about Early Child Development. It also helps identify the need for and benefits of ECE programmes. It is now well documented that young children growing up in poverty are disproportionately exposed to a wide range of risk factors such as: poor nutrition; less stimulating learning environments; poor sanitation; stressful life events; exposure to environmental risks.

  • A quality assessment chosen should be (Fernald et al., 2009):

  • Psychometrically adequate, valid and reliable;

  • Balanced in terms of number of items at the lower end to avoid children with low scores;
  • Enjoyable for children;

  • Relatively easy to adapt;

  • Not requiring much material;

  • Not too difficult to obtain or too expensive;

  • Able to be used for a wide age range. (Fernald et al., 2009, p.67).

It is important for policy makers and researchers to know “why, what and how” to select measurements for child development. It is key to consider:

1) The purpose of the testing. In most cases, policy makers and researchers introduce the testing because they want to have an evidence of the impact of a specific ECE program.

2) The difference between screening and assessment of abilities and achievement;

3) The different modes of available testing;

4) The use of population level vs. individual level testing;

5) The practical and logistical issues that will affect the selection of tests. Intervention teams may find it necessary to consider which tests suit the project best and are feasible given constraints such as: budget, copyright issues, ethical issues, time allocated for testing, training, test setting, capacity of the respondent, language and cultural differences and materials.

Below are selected measures for preschool children (3-5 years) that apply to various domains of child development and have been implemented in developing countries as well as population-based assessments based on the work of Fernald, et al. (2009) are presented below.

Tool 2. Assessment Profile for Early Childhood Programmes (APECP)

Tool 7. Early Childhood Education (ECE) Programme Evaluation Package (India)

Tool 8. Early Language & Literacy Classoom Observation (ELLCO)

Tool 10. Observation Measures of Language and Literacy (OMLIT)

Tool 22. High/Scope USA



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