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Not all children are exposed to the unspoken expectations for communi- cation and behavior in school settings, such as the early exposure to oral and written linguistic experiences of the mainstream.

As such, children who may have cultures with strong oral tradi- tions for learning (American Indians, Haitian Creoles) may be at risk for biased assessments (Notari-Syverson, Losardo, and Lim, 2003).

Minority Children Conducting assessments for all children has both benefits and challenges, but when it comes to assessing young children from a cultural, ethnic, or racial minority group, unique concerns apply related to issues of bias.

There is a long history of concern 233 234 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT related to the potential for, and continued perpetuation of, unfair discriminatory practices and outcomes for minority children.

Inappropriate Content and Measuring Different Constructs Bias may arise when the content of the test is unfamiliar to or inappropriate for minority children; test content is inappropriate for a population as a result of contextual differences (Neisworth and Bagnato, 2004).

For example, differences in culture between racial minority and white majority groups in communication patterns, child­ rearing practices, daily activities, identities, frames of reference, histories, and environmental niches may influence child develop- 236 EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSESSMENT ment and how development is assessed (Gallimore, Goldenberg, and Weisner, 1993; Hiner, 1989; Ogbu, 1981, 2004; Slaughter- Defoe, 1995; Weisner, 1984, 1998).

8 Assessing All Children A ll children deserve to be served equitably by early care and educational services and, if needed, by intervention services.

This requires that there be fair and effective tools to assess their learning and development and identify their needs.

Most of what is known about potential bias in assessing minority children is based on school-age children and youth.

Less is known about children younger than age 5 and assessment score differences between whites and blacks (Brooks- Gunn et al., 2003).

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