Diagnosis provides a detailed analysis of performance which can be used for professional development planning and job placement. The goal of diagnosis is to improve the overall quality and accuracy of interpretation of the child condition.

  • Diagnosis is a comprehensive procedure that addresses specific questions about the development, knowledge, and skills of young children. A careful and systematic process is used to diagnose problems in a particular area of development or academics, and a relatively large amount of information is used to build a fine-grained understanding of a child’s problem. Current best practices in assessment recommend the use of diagnostic assessment procedures to guide targeted interventions, as well as to determine eligibility for special services.
  • The purpose of diagnosis to identify and secure appropriate intervention services for children whose development and learning are delayed. Access to targeted interventions involves identifying the nature and severity of developmental, language, academic, or learning problems comprehensively and systematically. As a result, diagnosis of young children is reserved for those few who do not demonstrate typical growth and learning trajectories, for example those identified by screening as having potential developmental or academic problems.
  • Diagnostic assessment may determine eligibility for a number of programs such as infant toddler early intervention, preschool special education, and mental health; or it may indicate the need for additional or alternative instruction to the child.

Recommended Practices in Diagnosis

  1. Diagnostic procedures should always include multiple sources of information, with special attention to the family perspective in gathering information and interpreting results.
  2. Diagnostic assessment is used to include children in placements and services, never to exclude children. In particular, assessment of early learning and academic skills should never be used as the sole criterion to deny children kindergarten entrance. When scores on school readiness tests suggest a concern, children should be referred for additional help to accelerate their learning.
  3. Use of individual norm-referenced diagnostic tests that are not directly connected with curriculum should be limited with young children.
  4. Diagnostic results should only be used for the purpose they are developed: to identify children who are eligible for additional help, special services, or specific interventions.
  5. Developmental and academic diagnostic instruments should be norm-referenced with explicit standards for comparison. All diagnostic instruments should be standardized in their administration.