Straight Talk about Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

​by Stephanie Feeney, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Education, University of Hawaii (2016)

What is kindergarten readiness assessment?

Kindergarten readiness is the state of early development that enables a child to successfully meet school expectations. It includes the link
between the home, the early childhood program, and the kindergarten.

Most discussion about school readiness today focuses on children’s ability to meet the content standards and assessment expectations spelled
out in state and federal mandates. Independent of the cut-off age, these standards, that drive curriculum and assessment in public schools, set
expectations for academic achievement that have been on the rise since the l980s.

Why is Defending the Early Years concerned about the current state of readiness assessment?

the loss of meaningful, play-based early education and see that kindergarten has become the new first grade. Readiness assessments that emphasize academic skills often limit children’s opportunities for social, emotional, and cognitive development and creativity. These concerns have a particular urgency for low-income children and those who speak English as a second language–children who especially need meaningful experiences, good books, and hands-on learning to support their development.

What can parents, teachers, and policymakers do about inappropriate kindergarten assessment?

Make sure that assessments address all five domains of child development identified by the National Education Goals Panel (1997)—and question data gathered from an instrument that doesn’t take a comprehensive look at a child).

Check to be sure that assessments are:

  1. Research-based, valid, and reliable.
  2. Aligned with the developmentally appropriate aspects of your state’s early learning standards.
  3. Appropriate for the ages, cultural backgrounds, and individual differences of the children being assessed.
  4. Focused on learning that is developmentally appropriate and educationally significant.

Answers to these questions and more can be found in DEY’s report, “Straight Talk About Kindergarten Readiness Assessment,” written by Stephanie Feeney, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Education at the University of Hawaii and a member of DEY’s National Advisory Board.

Download the full report here.