Monday, October 17, 2011

Assessing Kindergarten Readiness

New York's Board of Regents, the governing body for the state education system, is considering a proposal at its meeting today that would include assessing all children entering kindergarten to determine their readiness for school. This would move beyond the basic assessments that are now done to look at whether a child may have a disability or limited English language.

We think this is a fine idea, so long as the more extensive assessments are used as a starting point to guide interventions with appropriate follow-up. We already know that all children learn differently, and that young children, in particular, have a wide range of abilities. By identifying early readiness skills schools can provide teachers with helpful data. According to the proposal before the Regents, this assessment would look at language and literacy development, cognition and general knowledge (including early mathematics and early scientific development), approaches to learning, physical well-being and motor development (including adaptive skills) and emotional development. It would not be used to postpone entrance into kindergarten. According to Newsday, this new extended assessment process would affect about 190,000 entering kindergarten students each year and the funding would be provided as part of a package of federal grants designed to broadly benefit early childhood education.

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