Hills (1992) notes the importance of accountability:
"All of the adults involved closely with assessment issues have responsibilities--they are accountable. Teachers, administrators, and parents must wrestle with the issues of what is worth knowing and how to communicate those values to children." (p. 45)
Educators are accountable for the quality of their programs-- that is, they must be able to answer legitimate questions about the programs in relation to their underlying goals and objectives. In educational improvement and reform movements, accountability has been emphasized continually. Assessment plays an essential role in accountability of early childhood educators and the programs they implement. (See the Critical Issue "Rethinking Assessment and Its Role in Supporting Educational Reform.")
Until the 1980s, most early childhood programs--at least those for preschool, kindergarten, and early primary levels--were exempted from requirements for standardized achievement tests. With the rise of the accountability movement and the explosion of associated formal testing in elementary education, however, mass group testing of younger children became prevalent. Tests chosen and administered originally to determine whether programs were producing the desired effects in groups of children were frequently misused for other additional purposes (see abuses and misuses of tests for assessing young children).
Currently, accountability in early childhood programs is increasingly associated with practices in instruction, curriculum, and assessment that are developmentally appropriate.