All children who reach the legal age of required school attendance are entitled to an appropriate education in the least restrictive environment.1,2 Most communities offer some form of "school readiness testing" to screen for children with special educational needs, and most schools do this appropriately. However, readiness testing can vary greatly in its sophistication, and can easily be incorrectly applied and interpreted. When instruments and procedures designed for screening are used for diagnostic purposes,3 or when tests are administered by individuals who have a limited perspective on the variations of normal development, or when staff with little formal training in test administration perform the screening, children can be wrongly identified and their education jeopardized. For these reasons, the use of readiness testing that is designed for screening should not be used to make placement decisions. No child should be excluded from school, placed in a special education setting, or provided with special educational services on the basis of such testing.
The decision that a child will require special educational services for developmental problems should be based upon the analysis of data obtained from individually administered, standardized developmental tests completed by qualified professionals with experience working with children of this age.4 Such professionals include child psychologists, speech and language pathologists, special education diagnosticians, and pediatricians who have expertise in early childhood development. Special educational placement or services for developmental problems in the preschool and kindergarten years should be recommended only when appropriately administered developmental assessments clearly document significant developmental delays or serious emotional or behavioral problems.5
- Copyright © 1995 by the American Academy of Pediatrics