Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Washington's Kindergarten Entry Assessment Report

This descriptive study examines the development and early implementation of Kindergarten Entry Assessments or KEAs in 12 districts and 23 schools within four RTT-ELC states (Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington) during the 2014–15 school year. To see the entire report, go here: Case Studies of the Early Implementation of Kindergarten Entry Assessments (KEAs).

The study is intended to help states learn from the experiences of other states as they work to develop and implement their own KEAs and to use KEAs to improve instruction and learning.
Key findings:

State officials and stakeholders in all four case study states considered multiple criteria when developing or adopting KEA measures: 
  • reliability and validity, 
  • appropriateness for all students, 
  • usefulness for informing classroom instruction, 
  • usefulness for informing early learning policies and program improvement, 
  • feasibility of administration by teachers, 
  • and cost. 
The four states trained teachers on KEA administration through self-paced webinars, in-person presentations, and train-the-trainer models. A majority of the interviewed teachers said the training prepared them to administer the KEA to students, though many teachers reported that they had difficulty in determining what were appropriate accommodations for English learner (EL) students or (dual language learners) and students with disabilities and indicated that they needed further assistance. 

Recommendations for Policymakers & Administrators

  • Be clear about how KEA results will and will not be used by interested groups (i.e early childhood programs, Kindergarten teachers, school administrators, parents and legislators). 
  • Use KEA tools that will take into account students with disabilities and EL student populations. 
  • Be aware of other assessment requirements placed on this population of students and if possible eliminate or combine other skills assessment/inventory requirements. Provide the teachers taking the inventory with assistance to minimize time collecting and reporting assessment data. 
  • Properly prepare, train and provide guidance and coaching to teachers that will be administering KEA. This will help ensure consistent and uniform results to provide the most accurate snapshot of students’ abilities. 
  • KEA results must be delivered in a user-friendly and timely report in order for educators and parents to best utilize the information to help address each student’s needs. 
  • Tie results back to preschool instruction and analyze data in order to identify instructional areas that early learning programs could help children be better prepared for kindergarten. 
Washington State’s KEA is called the Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills or WaKIDS. As with much of the work surrounding the early learning environment in Washington State, the Department of Early Learning (DEL) worked with public and private partners in developing WaKIDS. This includes:
  • The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction 
  • The Gates Foundation 
  • Thrive Washington 
  • The Early Learning Regional Coalitions 
There are three components to WaKIDS:
  • Family connection welcomes families into the Washington K-12 system as partners in their child’s education. 
  • Whole-child assessment helps kindergarten teachers learn about the skills and strengths of the children in their classrooms so they can meet the needs of each child. 
  • Early learning collaboration aligns practices of early learning professionals and kindergarten teachers to support smooth transitions for children. 
The intended purposes of the Whole-Child Assessment component (i.e., GOLD®) of WaKIDS are to:
  • Help kindergarten teachers plan classroom instruction and individualize educational supports for each student. 
  • Engage, welcome, and partner with families and inform them about children’s learning strengths and needs. 
  • Inform decisions about early learning and K–12 education policy and investments at the community, district, and state levels. 
  • Inform early childhood education providers about children’s learning strengths and needs.

Washington WaKIDS Timeline

(Information from Exhibit 8)

2009: Legislature appropriates funds to identify and evaluate a KEA process.
2009–2010: Advisory team and committees review tools, select GOLD®, and develop WaKIDS administration process.
2010–2011: Washington Kindergarten Inventory of Developing Skills (WaKIDS) is piloted and evaluated.
2011–2012: Legislature passes SB5427; WaKIDS is voluntary in state-funded full-day kindergartens this school year.
2012–2013: WaKIDS is mandatory in all state-funded full-day kindergartens this school year.

Exhibit 9. Percentages of Washington Students Demonstrating Kindergarten Readiness

Exhibit Reads: 40% of all Washington kindergarten students demonstrated skills indicating full kindergarten readiness. SOURCE: Data from State of Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction n.d.


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