Mar 19, 2011
ELW

Quotes and References Regarding the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment

THERE IS NO CRISIS

“The total percentage [3-10% for 2009] of students rated on average as not yet showing proficiency in each of the five developmental domains has remained consistent throughout the seven years of the study.” – 2009 Readiness Study Report, MDE, April 2010, p. 13

“The advocates sponsoring these ads base their claims on some early learning studies done by the Minnesota Education Department. But those studies did not draw dividing lines between children at different levels of development. They did not brand some students ready or not ready for kindergarten. The Education Department studies do show that between 2 percent and 11 percent of children do not yet demonstrate some skills or behaviors they need for success in school. Another group, about half, are in the process of acquiring those skills. They should succeed in schools that offer solid academic programs. The rest show full proficiency.  If the claims of the advertising campaign were true, it would certainly show up three years later in the third-grade Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment results for reading and math ability. In fact, in 2004, 74 percent of Minnesota third-graders achieved proficient scores in the reading assessment; 71 percent were proficient or better in math. Some of those successful students must have been in the group not fully prepared for kindergarten. – Commissioner Alice Seagren, Pioneer Press, February 5, 2006, emphasis added

LABELING CHILDREN CAN HAVE NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES

“Because children develop and grow along a continuum with great variability, the goal of these studies is to assess children s proficiency within and across these developmental domains and not establish whether or not children are ready for school with the use of a composite ready or not ready score. Young children develop rapidly and at varying rates across the domains, and an early, definitive determination of readiness can have unintended negative consequences” – 2006, Readiness Study Report, MDE, p.7,  emphasis added

 

“The National Academy of Science reports that even in upper grades, extreme caution is needed in relying exclusively on child assessment and that for children birth to five ‘even more extreme caution is needed.’” – 2009 Readiness Study Report, MDE, p. 12, emphasis added

Spending money on advertising that attempts to scare the public and brand children as failures before the age of 5 does a disservice to families and to the good work of those in the field of school readiness.” – Commissioner Alice Seagren, Pioneer Press, February 5, 2006, emphasis added

VAGUE AND SUBJECTIVE STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS

The vagueness and subjectivity of the standards and the assessments are shown in these examples of items from Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (p.17):

“Shows beginning understanding of numbers and quantity”

“Shows an appreciation for books and reading

“Shows empathy and caring for others”

“Responds to artistic creations or events”

“We know that three, four, and five years olds are very poor test takers… you know they have their own agendas, their own personalities, their own timelines, and they don’t have the personal skills to sit for testing sometimes.  And sometimes they lack language skills to truly explain what they know.  They also haven’t learned the social skills or the social rules for test taking.  So, with any assessment of young children, we have to recognize the limitations of the data we have.” – Tracey Wallace, KRA trainer, House Early Childhood Learning Finance Committee, 2/2/07, emphasis added

“So, with work sampling [another name for the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment]  or with other kinds of observational assessments, you might wonder about the quality of the observation that the teacher did. And we might wonder about the conclusions that the teacher inferred from the observations.  Are they accurate?” – Tracey Wallace, House Early Childhood Learning Finance Committee, 2/2/07, emphasis added

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