A Statewide Snapshot of Early Skills, An Opportunity to Focus on Equity
Salem, OR (January 14, 2015)—The results of the 2014-2015 Oregon Kindergarten Assessment were released today. This is the second year the state has collected a snapshot of children’s skills and knowledge when they first enter kindergarten.
The state of Oregon wants to ensure that student success starts early. Children currently enter kindergarten having had a wide variety of informal and formal early childhood experiences. The Kindergarten Assessment provides a means by which to honor the diverse early experiences children have before they enter school while highlighting areas where resources can be targeted to better serve families and children. The Kindergarten Assessment also gives schools additional information that can inform how they invest their limited resources in supporting the social, emotional, and academic development of students in the early elementary grades.
The assessment is not a comprehensive look at what children know, but rather focuses on a few of the skills that have been shown to be predictive of success in later learning. The Kindergarten Assessment results provide a snapshot of the extent to which children are starting school with the skills that will allow them to engage in and benefit from the opportunities and experiences provided to them.
“Research is clear that the experiences children have in their earliest years set the stage for future learning and success,” said Megan Irwin, Acting Early Learning System Director. “We know that supporting all young children and families to learn and thrive will not only benefit children and families in the short term, but the investment will benefit our schools, our communities and our state’s future prosperity. This data elevates the need for that investment and the need to make sure equity is front and center in all of our early learning strategies.”
It is the State’s priority to ensure that students enter kindergarten ready to learn and are reading to learn by third grade. The Governor’s Requested Budget includes a $135 million investment in early learning. This investment is targeted toward strategies designed to close opportunity gaps and eliminate disparities for students, age three through grade three. The total package of investments includes funding for child care subsidy, early intervention and special education, family coaching and support, early literacy strategies, preschool, and early learning hubs.
Districts such as the Roseburg School District are using their Kindergarten Assessment data to evaluate the needs and opportunities in each of their elementary schools and make sure resource allocations match the needs.
“The Kindergarten Assessment data provides a more nuanced look at the strengths and opportunities in our incoming kindergarten class than we have ever had before,” said Jill Weber, Teaching and Learning Administrator, Roseburg School District. “We can start to evaluate how the investments we are making in preschool and parent engagement are making a difference for our students.”
The Kindergarten Assessment includes three components: Approaches to Learning, which includes teacher observations of self-regulation and interpersonal skills, and direct assessments in Early Literacy and Early Mathematics.
The child-friendly assessment is a combination of teacher observations and one-on-one sessions during which a child is asked to complete tasks such as identifying letters or counting the number of objects in a picture. Children are never asked to write down responses during any portion of the assessment.
The Approaches to Learning segment is based on teacher observations and perceptions of skills and children’s behavior. Teachers observe their students in the classroom during regular classroom activities and routines and rate students’ self-regulation behaviors and interpersonal skills such as the ability to focus, persevere at a task, and work with others. For each item, students are rated on a scale ranging from 1 (the child never exhibits the behavior described by the item) to 5 (the child always exhibits the behavior described by the item).
The Early Literacy segment includes a letter names and a letter sounds direct assessment that are timed to measure fluency, meaning that they provide information about how quickly and accurately entering kindergarten students can produce letter names and letter sounds.
The Early Mathematics segment is an untimed direct assessment in numbers and operations including counting, simple addition, simple subtraction, and recognizing number patterns.
For more information about the content of the assessment, see the Oregon Kindergarten Assessment Report Overview.
|Approaches to Learning||Early Mathematics||Early Literacy|
|Self-Regulation||Interpersonal Skills||Total||Numbers & Operations||English Letter Names||English Letter Sounds|
|SubGroup||Average Rating (1 – 5)||Average Rating (1 – 5)||Average Rating (1 – 5)||Average Num Correct (0- 16)||Average Num Correct (0- 100)||Average Num Correct (0- 100)|
|American Indian/Alaskan Native||3.5||3.8||3.6||7.3||14.3||4.5|
The field of kindergarten assessment nationwide is very dynamic and rapidly developing. Oregon has used a thoughtful, research-based approach to recommend and use the components of the assessment. The state continues to engage researchers and stakeholders to refine those components.
“Historically underserved communities represent Oregon’s best opportunity to improve educational outcomes,” Irwin said. “In order for each and every child and family to learn and thrive, early learning services have to be differentiated and focused on the assets of each of our communities. The Kindergarten Assessment data gives us valuable insight into how well the early learning system is responding to community needs and we fully expect greater, equitable investments in early learning to help close the opportunity gaps that show up in this data.”
Results of the Spanish Letter Names Operational Field Test
This is the first year the state administered the Spanish Letter Names component of the assessment. The Oregon Department of Education and Early Learning Division will continue to engage researchers, educators and other stakeholders in a conversation about the evolution of each component of the Kindergarten Assessment, including this measure. The intention of the Spanish Letter Names assessment is to honor and support the diverse language experiences children bring into kindergarten classrooms while at the same time considering the resources needed to continuously develop proficiency in English.
The Spanish Letter Names assessment is only available to students who have been identified as English Learners and whose native language is Spanish. The Spanish Letter Names segment is intended to measure students’ accuracy and speed in naming upper and lowercase letters in Spanish. Spanish Letter Names scores represent the number of specified letters a student is able to correctly identify in one minute.
Below are the statewide results from the Spanish Letter Names measure. The chart below shows the results from the 4,369 students who were assessed with both the Spanish Letter Names measure and the English Letter Names measure. These students were more proficient with English Letter Names than Spanish Letter Names.
|English Letter Names||Spanish Letter Names|
|Average Num Correct (0- 100)||Average Num Correct (0- 100)|
|Students who took both the English Letter Names and Spanish Letter Names Assessment||4.71||2.94|
“We know that our Latino students need more access to culturally responsive early learning opportunities in general and more bi-lingual early learning opportunities specifically,” said David Bautista, Assistant Superintendent of the Equity Unit at the Oregon DepartmentDeveloping a child’s language of origin is a key strategy in developing early literacy.”