See The Early Learning Assessment Literacy Challenge at New America EdCentral for an article on the effective use of assessments in early childhood education. The article includes a number of embedded links to useful guidance documents, including Early Childhood Assessment: Implementing Effective Practice.
From the EdCentral article:
“A strong consensus among education experts supports the notion that one of the best ways to improve instructional strategies and ultimately boost outcomes for individual students is through the use of assessment-generated data. This focus on assessment and using data to drive decision-making for both accountability and instruction has resulted in a proliferation of new policies and practices. It has also encouraged development of new resources, materials, and products, as well as sparked conversations among stakeholders about the appropriate use of assessment. In the current educational landscape, classroom teachers, school principals, district administrators, and state and federal policymakers spend significant time thinking about who, what, why, how, and when to assess.”