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Home Publications How kindergarten entry assessments are used in public schools and how they correlate with spring assessments

How kindergarten entry assessments are used in public schools and how they correlate with spring assessments

by Katherine Shields, Kyle Demeo Cook and Sara Greller

As a growing number of states require kindergarten entry assessments, more state and district administrators are becoming interested in how their peers use these assessments around the country. Given this interest, state administrators participating in Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands Early Childhood Education Research Alliance generated the idea for this study as a source of information as they implemented plans for statewide assessments. Using nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-11, this study examined how many public schools used kindergarten entry assessments and for what purposes, what types of public schools used kindergarten entry assessments, and whether the use of kindergarten entry assessments was correlated with student early learning assessment scores in reading and math in spring of the kindergarten year. Findings from the study include: (1) Overall, 73 percent of public schools offering kindergarten classes reported using kindergarten entry assessments; (2) The most common purpose of kindergarten entry assessments was individualizing instruction, reported by 93 percent of public schools using them. Sixty-five percent of schools using kindergarten entry assessments reported that they used the assessments to identify students needing additional testing for learning problems. Schools also reported using the assessments for one or more purposes related to enrollment: to determine class placement (41 percent of schools using kindergarten entry assessments), to advise parents about delayed entry (24 percent), and to determine eligibility for students whose age fell below the cutoff (16 percent); (3) Most public schools using kindergarten entry assessments did so for multiple purposes (80 percent). Fifty percent of schools using the assessments reported both instructional- and enrollment-related purposes; 60 percent used the assessments for both instructional purposes and screening to identify additional testing needs; and (4) Schools' reported use of kindergarten entry assessments did not have a statistically significant relationship with students' early learning in reading or math in spring of the kindergarten year when the analysis controlled for student and school characteristics. This study provides states and schools with information about the use of kindergarten entry assessments nationwide and offers contextual information to state-level administrators as they select, develop, and implement these assessments. As an exploratory analysis, this study describes how schools say they use kindergarten entry assessments, without drawing conclusions about the effects of their use. Future research could examine the relationships between the nature and quality of the implementation of these assessments and student outcomes. The following are appended: (1) Literature review; (2) Analytic measures; (3) Analytic sample; (4) Analytic methods; and (5) Detailed regression results.

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