In considering the concept of the “whole child”, I think children should be assessed as early as preschool; however I believe that at a young age, assessment should be done cautiously and to identify any possible learning disabilities/gifted abilities and to determine the appropriate intervention or teaching method. I believe also that assessments should be used to determine development and learning and on some level, assessments should also be used to monitor a child’s progress and measure mastery of skills taught. Because development is an on-going process, I believe assessments should also be an on-going process at different periods during a school year, as well as at different ages of a child’s life (i.e. at various grade levels).
In the United States, depending on the type of school a child attends, assessment may began as early as 4 years old—although most assessments at this young age usually involve a summative and formative approach. A great deal of schools begin standardized testing at 8 years old and older.
I researched Iceland to see how they approach childhood assessments in early childhood and I was able to note some similarities and some differences between the United States and Iceland. Here in the United States, teachers and school systems conduct assessment tests; assessment tests in Iceland (during the preschool years) are usually conducted by qualified psychologists or preschool teachers with post graduate qualifications. Assessments begin as early as preschool and continue throughout secondary school. Assessments during the preschool years are to determine/identify any learning disabilities and to determine the proper intervention as early as possible. In the primary and secondary school years, assessments are used to measure performance in various core subjects, working methods, social skills and communication skills. The assessments in Iceland are seemingly similar to the United States;however, different from most public schools in the United States who participate in the NCLB Act (No Child Left Behind). In Iceland, the child progresses to either upper secondary schooling programs (if they pass the assessment), or lower secondary schooling programs (if they fail the assessment—however these students still have the opportunity to test into an upper secondary schooling program). In either event, pass or fail, students are not kept back a grade. I assume the lower level schooling program would be aimed at helping the child improve those skills he/she may be lacking in, with the ultimate goal of progressing to higher secondary schooling programs.
Sources: Information on childhood assessments in Iceland were retrieved from, http://www.european-agency.org/agency-projects/assessment-in-inclusive-settings/assessment-database-of-key-topics/iceland/implementation-of-assessment-policy