Psychometric Analysis of Child Outcome Measures with American Indian and Alaska Native Preschoolers: Initial Evidence from AI/AN FACES 2015

OPRE Technical Report 2018-21
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Feb 28, 2018
Lizabeth Malone, Sara Bernstein, Sally Atkins-Burnett, and Yange Xue

Key Findings:

  • For most of the measures, findings from these analyses suggest that it is appropriate to report the AI/AN FACES 2015 preschool child outcomes scores, the exception being one of the two measures of executive function.
  • All measures demonstrated acceptable reliability with alphas of 0.70 or above.
  • The strength of correlations between measures is in an expected pattern. Correlations are stronger between measures of similar constructs (for example, receptive and expressive language) than between different constructs (for example, social behavior and language).
  • Among six cognitive measures flagged across reviews, none warrant additional follow-up based on the DIF analyses. Most cognitive measures did not show evidence of performing differently across groups based on DIF analysis. Two cognitive measures (Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition and Expressive One-Word Picture Vocabulary Test-Fourth Edition) had items demonstrating DIF; however, the number of items with DIF was close to or less than the number we would expect by chance and item difficulties were balanced overall, with some easier for AI/AN children and others easier for White children.
  • None of the teacher- and assessor-reported social-emotional measures exhibited performance concerns based on the current review.
  • Examination of the executive function measures indicated that the pencil tapping task is an appropriate measure for this sample. However, a floor effect was found with the HTKS (the majority of children scored near the bottom). Therefore, the measure provided limited information to distinguish the children in this sample.

AI/AN FACES 2015 is the first national study of Region XI AI/AN Head Start children and their families, classrooms, and programs. To date, the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) has been a major source of descriptive information on Head Start and preschool children ages 3 to 5 years old who attend the program. FACES gathers data from Regions I-X, the 10 geographically based Head Start regions, with the most recent round conducted in 2014.The AI/AN FACES 2015 study presents a new opportunity to explore the psychometric performance of commonly used measures of preschoolers’ cognitive and social-emotional development. The reliability and validity of a measure are not inherent but depend on its use. Norming samples for most child assessment measures do not include large numbers of AI/AN children and as a result little is known about measure performance when administered to AI/AN children. Concerns exist about whether scores from these measures accurately reflect the children’s abilities, skills, and knowledge. Previous smaller studies have used these measures with AI/AN children, but none were large enough to test the measures’ psychometric performance. Child outcomes measures in AI/AN FACES 2015 were aligned with those in FACES 2014. Therefore, this alignment allows us to learn how standardized child development measures performed when administered to a large sample of AI/AN children.  This technical report describes the performance of cognitive and social-emotional measures of preschoolers’ development for AI/AN children, using recent data from AI/AN FACES 2015 and FACES 2014.