Comparing Apples and Oranges: The Mismeasurement of Young Children Through the Mismatch of Assessment Purpose and the Interpretation of Results

Rena A. Hallam, Ashley N. Lyons, Kristie Pretti-Frontczak, Jennifer Grisham-Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The assessment of young children in early childhood special education is a central area of educational practice. The results of child assessments often have significant implications for young children, their families, and the programs that serve them, including eligibility for special education services, instructional planning, and documentation of child outcomes. The array of early childhood assessment types and purposes can be challenging to disentangle at the practitioner and policy level. At this time, different types of assessment tools (e.g., norm-referenced and criterion-referenced) are being used to document the development and learning of children and little attention has been paid to the parallel information produced from different assessment types. The purpose of this study is to compare the assessment results from two types of developmental instruments commonly used (Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System Second Edition [AEPS 2nd ed.] and Battelle Developmental Inventory II [BDI-2]) to determine their congruence in determining a child's developmental status (e.g., “on track” or delayed). Results indicate substantive difference between the two measures highlighting the potential for mismeasurement and misinterpretation of child assessment data. Implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-115
Number of pages10
JournalTopics in Early Childhood Special Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research was funded in part by a Professional Development Award provided by the University of Tennessee–Knoxville and by the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, 90YD0128/04.


  • at risk for developmental delays/disabilities
  • developmental assessment
  • disability populations
  • eligibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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