Education Week last week ran an article entitled “Kindergarten Assessments Begin to Shape Instruction.” Here’s an excerpt:
But in recent years, the school has tried to shift instruction in a way that they say works better for young children. And they credit the use of a comprehensive method of evaluating kindergarten students, called kindergarten entry assessment, as one of the tools that allowed them to do that.
Kindergarten entry assessments, which some states call “kindergarten readiness assessments” or “kindergarten entry inventories,” are intended to guide a teacher’s instructional practice. They may include direct assessment of children’s skills, teacher observations, or both. They’re intended to give teachers a well-rounded picture of the whole child, including his or her academic, social, and physical development.
While these assessments are becoming more widespread—boosted by federal support during the Obama administration—they’re offering mixed results for teachers and for school districts.
Supporters say they’re useful in supporting all elements of a child’s development during their important early school days.
Others have criticized the assessments as an additional burden that doesn’t let teachers know what they should do with all the data they’re expected to collect. And the assessments also raise concerns for some that they’ll be used for high-stakes purposes, like evaluating teachers or sorting children into educational tracks.
These were pushed through Race to the Top as the article notes:
Kindergarten entry assessments or inventories are not new, but they received a big push through the federal Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grants, which required applicants to outline a plan of how they were going to use these assessments to promote school readiness. The assessments were required to measure “language and literacy, cognition and general knowledge, approaches to learning, physical well-being and motor development, and social-emotional development,” the grant said.
The U.S. Department of Education also had a different grant program just to support state creation of kindergarten-entry assessments.
Researchers have raised questions about whether the assessments meet one goal of providing an academic boost for students. In 2016, the Regional Educational Laboratory Northeast & Islands wrote a report saying that using kindergarten entry assessments did not produce statistically significant improvements on students’ early reading or math skills.
But the students in that study would have started school well before the Education Department started giving money to states to create or improve their entry assessments.
Have to love the spin here. If the study authors looked at students using kindergarten entry assessments does it really matter whether there were federal dollars? Education Week also makes the assumption that the assessments were poor before the RTTT dollars. Evidence of that?
No, what we see here is another education reform pushed onto states through federal money that had absolutely no basis in evidence.
But sure, let’s continue to assess kindergartners because that’s what all the trendy educrats are doing.