13 Advantages header

13 Advantages of the AEPS-3 Test


Excerpted and lightly adapted from the AEPS®-3 User’s Guide (Volume 1), by Diane Bricker, Ph.D., Carmen Dionne, Ph.D., Jennifer Grisham, Ed.D., JoAnn (JJ) Johnson, Ph.D., Marisa Macy, Ph.D., Kristine Slentz, Ph.D., and Misti Waddell, M.S.

Professionals who work with infants, toddlers, and young children often are frustrated when using traditional normative-based instruments, or norm-referenced assessments, to assess development and measure progress. There are several reasons for this:

First, outcomes from standardized early childhood assessment measures frequently do not reflect a child’s typical performance and thus are inappropriate for establishing suitable learning goals. These standardized assessment measures were constructed to compare children with a normative sample rather than to develop instructional plans for individual children.

Second, many standardized assessment items require children to use specialized and unfa­miliar materials, and often there are too few items to adequately assess what a child knows and is able to do.

Third, administration guidelines for early childhood standardized assessments tend to be either very brief or too detailed to allow flexible administration across children. The sequence of test items typically offers little guidance for effectively teaching developmental sequences.

To address these problems, the AEPS®-3 Test’s approach offers these advantages over many other instruments:

  1. AEPS-3 measures core functional skills and abilities that help the child gain independence. The AEPS-3 Test measures the functional skills and abilities that are essential for young children to function independently and cope with environmental demands. Focusing on functional skills and abilities ensures that each test item is potentially an appropriate teaching or intervention target.
  2. AEPS-3 results clearly show children’s current developmental status and target next steps in teaching/intervention. AEPS-3 content includes developmental and early academic skills and sequences to help professionals understand children’s present skills and select appropriate targets for teaching or intervention.
  3. AEPS-3 offers coverage of early development and academic skills. The AEPS-3 Test comprehensively covers the key areas of development and early academics: Fine Motor, Gross Motor, Adaptive, Social-Emotional, Social-Communication, Cognitive, Literacy, and Math. Its developmental and academic content makes AEPS-3 valuable as both an initial assess­ment tool and a means of monitoring children’s progress over time.
  4. AEPS-3 relies on authentic assessment accomplished by observing children engaged in play or routine activities. The primary and preferred method of obtaining assessment and progress monitoring information for children is through observing them in familiar environments, interact­ing with familiar adults and peers, and using familiar toys and materials. The AEPS-3 Test is built around this method. It provides critical, accurate information about not only which skills a child uses functionally but also when and how the child uses them.
  5. AEPS-3 supports collection of useful information about children from their caregivers to ensure accurate assessment results. AEPS-3 family support materials engage families in the assessment process and facilitate gathering accurate, complete assessment data, while helping address family needs and interests and promoting clear communication.
  6. AEPS-3’s flexible administration lets you tailor it to accommodate all children. Administra­tion of the AEPS-3 Test is flexible, allowing users to adapt either the items’ presentation format or the stated criteria to maximize each child’s functional performance. For example, users are encouraged to use sign language to assess children who have hearing impairments and allow children who have motor impairments to use their usual adaptive materials (suction bowl, weighted utensil) to complete items such as eating independently. Flexibility is acceptable in how test items are presented and how children respond to them, because test results are used primarily to generate appropriate learning and intervention targets for individual children and to monitor their progress—not to compare children with their chronological age mates.
  7. AEPS-3 scoring gives children credit for emerging skills. AEPS-3 uses a 3-point scoring system that recognizes emerging skills, rather than assigning a simple “pass” or “fail” score (for either mas­tering or not meeting criteria).
  8. AEPS-3 Test items target important, generalizable, and meaningful skills. AEPS-3 Test items are written to reflect general response classes, such as use of descriptive words, rather than the singular, specific items within them (words like red, big, and smooth). For example, rather than narrowly testing a child’s ability to insert pegs into a pegboard, AEPS-3 items ask whether a child can grasp items that have different sizes and configurations.
  9. AEPS-3 items are clear and can be measured reliably. Each test item includes specific descriptive criteria and examples to illustrate mastery performance, with explanatory or descriptive informa­tion accompanying each item to ensure clarity and reliability in scoring.
  10. The AEPS-3 Test is fully integrated and linked with a tiered curriculum. The AEPS-3 Test and Curriculum are linked—assessment results from the AEPS-3 Test can be used to select teaching/intervention targets from the associated area in the AEPS-3 Curriculum. The curriculum is designed to address children’s skills in general teaching activities, with successive levels of support for children who need it.
  11. AEPS-3 results can be used to write goals and outcomes for young children in a range of programs. For children who have identified delays and disabilities, a set of written individualized education program and individualized family service plan (IFSP/IEP) goal and outcome examples is available in AEPS-3. These can be used as guides, models, or examples of goals for children.
  12. AEPS-3 has psychometric support for its validity, reliability, and These three technical aspects of AEPS-3 have been examined using more than 800 children birth to age 6. Evidence collected since 1984 speaks to the test’s validity and reliability and the significant help it offers users.
  13. AEPS-3 can be used to determine eligibility for services. Administration guidelines for the AEPS-3 Test allow users to assess goal-level skills to determine eligibility for publicly funded educational or therapeutic services. Studies report that AEPS Test results can be used to accu­rately qualify children for Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004 (PL 108-446) services.

These advantages make AEPS-3 the ideal choice for users who want to implement an efficient, effective approach that links assessment, goal/outcome development, teaching/intervention, and progress monitoring. To learn more about the AEPS-3 Test, see this At A Glance sheet and read an excerpt of Volume 2: Assessment.