RESPONSE 1 (Cameron): Developmental assessment often begins in infancy and continues throughout childhood and adolescence, and is significant for a number of reasons.  Developmental assessment is important because it evaluates all areas of developmental functioning to make sure that a child is progressing normally specific to age, and to also help ensure that there are not any serious neurological problems affecting development.  There are numerous types of assessments that are designed to measure different areas of ability and different stages of development, as some assessments focus on early childhood development, while others are more aimed at screening for developmental learning problems that could greatly impact a child’s academic performance.

Assessing children can be challenging for a number of reasons, so it is important to recognize some aspects that need to be considered when conducting an assessment.  As discussed by Slentz (2008), the age of the child can make assessment more challenging, as the younger the child is, the more difficult it can be to conduct an assessment.  For example, a young infant may fall asleep, or a toddler may have a fit and refuse to cooperate.  Other factors such as illness, fatigue, or hunger, could affect performance and thus, the overall assessment process, which would result in a failure to obtain a true measure of developmental abilities.  In addition, situational aspects such as setting, time of day, or particular assessment activities, may also pose a challenge to the overall assessment process.  Since all of these aspects present challenges in conducting assessments with children, flexibility and patience are recommended.

As mentioned, there are a variety of different types of developmental assessments used for different purposes.  One type of commonly used assessment for development is The Brigance Screens, which is a series of assessment tools designed to measure a variety of skills at different ages.  For example, The Brigance Early Childhood-II Screen is used for ages 0-35 months, and evaluates gross-motor and fine-motor skills, social-emotional, self-help, and language skills, while The Brigance K & 1 Screen-II evaluates those same skills, in addition to general knowledge, comprehension, and reading/writing skills among K-1st graders (Bedford, Walton, & Ahn, 2013).  While there are a number of advantages of The Brigance Screens, the primary benefits are that these tests are quick and easy to use, and are excellent for identifying developmental delays, and giftedness.  Moreover, The Brigance Screens are comparatively similar to the Bayley Scales for Infant and Toddler Development, in that they have relatively strong psychometric measures.  In my research, I found very few disadvantages with The Brigance Screens, however, these tests are mainly focused on academic performance and development, and as such, used more often in educational settings rather than health settings.

Bedford, H., Walton, S., & Ahn, J. (2013). Measures of child development: A review. Retrieved from

Slentz, K.L. (2008). A guide to assessment in early childhood: Infancy to age eight. Retrieved from

RESPONSE 2 (Robert): Assessing childhood development is very important.  Identifying possible issues and becoming aware of techniques that can aide in treating or intervene.  Recent estimates state that over 10% of children in America have behavioral or developmental disorders (Committee on Children With Disabilities, 2001).  Unfortunately, assessing infants and children comes with its own unique set of problems.  Young children and infants do not understand language (1) to a degree that they can effectively explain their state of mind, therefore assessments must find creative ways to identify abilities.  These challenges can leave a professionals providing little guidance to parents even when developmental signs arise.  For these reason and others periodic screenings are very important.  If issues are not detected from the initial screening, future screenings may identify the problem.  Screenings must be administered properly (2).  When conducted properly childhood screenings can be up to 70% accurate (Committee on Children With Disabilities, 2001).  Some screenings can be issued with a trained individual at the aide or assistant level.  It is vital that a psychologist or pediatrician enforces an adequate administrator that is capable of recording and relaying proper information.  A third area of concern (3) is the follow up of treatments and maintenance while the child is home.  When parents discover developmental problems with their child they usually become very stressed.  Parents must overcome their own emotional stress to provide their child with what they need to accelerate or alleviate their development concerns.  To overcome these issues pediatricians may request to study the child in an observation room, where a parent can observe from a window in another room.  A pediatrician must then be capable of prescribing or referring the proper treatment and therapy.  A referral for a home aide service may also be appropriate.

The Denver Developmental Screening Test (DDST) was created to assess developmental problems in children up to age 6.  The DDST is meant to screen for four main  functions: Fine motor skills (can place objects into other objects), Personal-social (mimics gestures), Speech (word sequence), and gross motor skills (jumps).  In situations where the parents are not cooperative or lack communications skills needed to explain what their children are going through the DDST can identify which developmental difficulties a child may be having.  The test can be administered by trained pediatricians.  Some research has found the DDST is inaccurate with children with language delays (Frankenburg, W. & Dodds, J., 1967).  DDST came about in the 60s and is still used today.  There has been a plethora of studies that have verified its effectiveness as well as criticized its short comings.  Regardless, professionals agree that the DDST, when combined with parental reporting and other assessment methods, can be a interval part of a thorough screening process.

Committee on Children With Disabilities, (2001). Developmental Surveillance and Screening of Infants and Young Children. American Academy of Pediatrics. Vol. 108, 192-196

Frankenburg, W., & Dodds, J., (1967). The Denver Developmental Screening Test. The Journal of Pediatrics. Vol. 71 (2), 181-191.

RESPONSE 3 (Remington):

Diagnostic assessment is can determine whether a child   belongs to a special needs program. This assessment seeks to identify the   impairment of the child, the source of the impairment and is coupled with   recommendations for the possible impairment. One of the most difficult issues   in assessing children and infants is the identification of special needs   because of an impairment (Bowman, 2000). Children are rapidly developing and   may be contending with significant stressors in their home life. Significant   stressors within home life can retard cognitive progress. Some assessments   are used to determine whether a child is at risk for failing school. Some   assessments run the risk providing extra resources to children in the short   term: with long term consequences that could be detrimental to the child   student. It is imperative that assessments consider the home environment of   the potential special needs student. Incorrect assessment could effect the   future educational programs the child is enrolled in. This could have   long-term educational and professional ramifications when the child reaches   adulthood.

Secondly, the history of standardized tests has a dark   history of misdiagnosis. Standardized tests may not be appropriate for all   children and may only offer a myopic perspective of the child’s competencies.   Cultural implications, socioeconomic status, home environment and other   variables may unduly influence the child’s performance on any standardized   test. Watching the child interact with their school peers and conducting a   clinical interview are two additional measures that will give assessment a   more three-dimensional state.

Third, an assessor must be kept abreast of the scientific   and technological tools available for assessment. The assessment is only as   good as the assessor. If the assessor fails to take into account experiences,   cultural backgrounds, language or home life, then the assessor may fail to   appreciate the cognitive limitations or potential of any one child.   Assessment is also subjective. There are various technique and goals within   assessment models. For example, Vygotsky and Reuven are two theorists that   consider the prior conceptions of the child to promote future cognitive   growth. These two theorists have argued for an in depth assessment of   children with a unique tailoring. These theorists have stressed the importance   of knowing the cultural background, use of language, clinical interviews and   natural observation. These theorists steer away from relying solely on   standardized tests for cognitive assessment.

Barbara T. Bowman, M. Suzanne Donovan, &   M. Susan Burns. (2000). Appendix: Scientific Evidence. In Eager to   Learn: Educating Our Preschoolers (pp. 323–332).