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Parent-teacher agreement and reliability on the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) in English and Spanish for ethnically diverse children living in poverty

By: Jennifer Fleming, DCRC Research Assistant

The purpose of this study was to examine the reliability of the English and Spanish forms of the DECA with an ethnically diverse sample of preschoolers living in poverty. Social-emotional competence is especially important for these children due to the numerous risk factors they face. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure the DECA can be effectively used with this population. To address these points, child care teachers and parents rated a total of 7,756 preschool children (ages 3 and 4) who were enrolled in center-based child care programs and received child care subsidies for low-income families. The sample was ethnically diverse with 57% Latino/Hispanic, 38% African American/Caribbean islander, and 5% White/other. Parents and teachers completed the DECA (in their choice of English or Spanish) at the beginning of the academic year (September) and at the end of the school year (May). Children were also assessed on the Learning Accomplishment Profile Diagnostic (LAP-D), a measure of cognitive, language, and motor skills, at both time points.

Results indicate that both the English and Spanish forms of the DECA are reliable measures of social-emotional competence and behavioral concerns. A moderate level of parent-teacher agreement was found which is consistent with previous research. Parents tended to rate their children as having stronger social-emotional competence and demonstrating more behavioral concerns compared to teachers. This finding supports the use of the DECA with both parents and teachers across diverse ethnic, language, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Furthermore, agreement was found to be higher when both parents and teachers completed the form in the same language. This finding may be important for programs serving bilingual families and teachers. Additionally, parent and teacher agreement differed based on the child’s cognitive, language, and motor skill competence as assessed by the LAP-D. Children with high-functioning competence were rated more favorably by teachers, while children with low-functioning competence were rated more favorably by parents. Taken together, the findings support the use of the DECA with English and Spanish speaking ethnically diverse populations living in an urban, impoverished environment.

Source: Crane, J., Mincic, M. S., & Winsler, A. (2011). Parent-teacher agreement and reliability on Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA) in English and Spanish for ethnically diverse children living in poverty. Early Education & Development, 22, 520-547.

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