Diverse Uses of Kindergarten Entry Assessments to Inform Research, Policy, and Practice
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
This panel presents a range of examples of how researchers and policymakers can use Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs) to learn about children’s skills and inform policy decisions. States are increasingly using KEAs to measure children’s skills when they enter kindergarten to guide teaching and statewide decisions about early learning resources (Regenstein, Connors, Romero-Jurado, & Weiner, 2017).
The first paper, “Using kindergarten entry assessments to track progress towards later reading proficiency” is a joint presentation between the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and their research partner, Mathematica. SDP will set the context for the panel by providing an example of what those working in districts want to learn from KEAs. Mathematica will then present the results of predictive analyses to set a threshold on the state’s KEA that accurately predicts 3rd grade reading proficiency. SDP plans to use this threshold to track citywide progress towards increasing the percentage of students who can read on grade level and to target supports to schools and students.
The second paper, “Children’s knowledge and skills at kindergarten entry in Illinois: Results from the first Illinois statewide administration of the Kindergarten Individual Development Survey”, addresses psychometric, descriptive, and qualitative implementation questions related to the state KEA. Having established the psychometric properties of the KEA, including across subgroups, this paper uses multilevel modeling to examine gaps in children’s skills at entry to kindergarten.
The third paper, “Establishing performance-level thresholds for the New Mexico Kindergarten Observation Tool” describes the development of cut scores to place students into the following performance level categories: developing, demonstrating, and exceeding foundational knowledge and skills at kindergarten entry. Thresholds were developed through an expert panel and quantitative analysis. These levels can help stakeholders understand how to (1) interpret children’s KEA scores to support learning and (2) recognize classrooms, schools, and districts that have more children in need of additional or enhanced opportunities for learning.
The fourth paper, “Examining the potential usefulness of kindergarten entry assessments for generating evidence of English learners’ (EL) skills and knowledge”, presents a comparative case study of the extent to which state KEAs differ in their EL-relevant content and accommodations policies. Its findings suggest that policymakers need to carefully consider the potential utility of KEA data to provide evidence of EL kindergartners’ knowledge and skills.
Taken together, these papers use qualitative, quantitative, and case study methods to address questions related to children’s school readiness at kindergarten entry. Our expert discussants will discuss findings across the papers to provide insight into a number of important topics in education, including reliably measuring young children’s skills, ensuring measures are suitable for use with diverse populations, and understanding gaps in children’s early skills. Now that 39 states require KEAs, these assessments are a potentially rich source of data about children’s school readiness (Center on Standards and Assessment Implementation, n.d.), and this panel demonstrates the potential of these assessments for research, policy, and practice.