Get More Out of Your Kindergarten Entry Assessment Process During COVID-19

Read Time: 7 minutes
Teaching Strategies
May 21, 2020

During this pandemic, we’ve heard concerns from educators about what the kindergarten entry assessment process will look like this fall. Given the fluidity of these times, it’s understandable that some kindergarten teachers are wondering if they will even be asked to do this entry assessment in 2020. This uncertainty fuels the need for flexibility in assessment methods and necessity of engaging families in the assessment process. And because traditional pre-kindergarten has been interrupted this spring, now, more than ever, teachers need an efficient, valid, reliable, and scalable way to assess where students are as they enter kindergarten and tailor instruction based on their needs to ensure all students progress, whether they are in the classroom or participating in remote learning.

Why is the kindergarten entry assessment process important?
As you may know, many kindergarten teachers are required to complete an assessment within as little as 30 days of each school year that evaluates where their incoming students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities are for essential learning and development domains compared to school readiness. When administered to fidelity, this assessment can be more than just a beginning of the year requirement–it can inform individualized instruction and promote powerful family partnerships, setting the stage for a successful school year for the entire classroom.

But often times, this assessment is viewed as a “one-and-done”—something the kindergarten teacher carries out, submits to her administrator, and doesn’t think about again until it’s time to do the entry assessment again the next fall. When using an assessment tool such as GOLD®, kindergarten teachers can actually get more out of the kindergarten entry assessment process than just a “one-and-done” evaluation. By using an ongoing, embedded, whole-child formative assessment tool during both kindergarten entry and throughout the school year, teachers can drive, document, and improve learning outcomes year-round. And with the potential of the next school year being either partially or fully remote, this type of tool becomes critical for kindergarten teachers to be able to plan for nurturing and growing their students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, in the classroom or during remote learning.

What are the benefits of using an ongoing, formative assessment tool in kindergarten?
Kindergarten teachers using GOLD® throughout the school year can

  • enable a whole-child approach to assessment that includes all essential areas of development and learning (such as social–emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, and mathematics),

GOLD®, grounded in research-based objectives that inform every aspect of teaching, includes predictors of school success. These objectives for development and learning span from birth through third grade and enable teachers to see students’ development and learning along a progression across the whole of the early childhood years.

  • facilitate an efficient and authentic kindergarten entry assessment without taking away from instructional time,

The GOLD® Kindergarten Entry Assessment Survey was created with the demands of kindergarten teachers in mind. Observation-based and systematic, this time-saving tool helps teachers get a comprehensive picture of each kindergarten child’s development and learning during the busy first few weeks of school.

  • provide administrators with the valid and reliable data they need for larger-scale, programmatic decision making through a secure web platform and supported by Interrater Reliability Certification for each teacher,

Administrators can generate outcomes reports to demonstrate aggregate results of the kindergarten entry assessment and to demonstrate growth in learning outcomes across the school year. To learn more about generating year-end GOLD® reports and supporting teachers during this time, please watch this on-demand webinar!

  • inform individualized instruction and remote learning from home with access to a library of developmentally appropriate learning resources beyond the kindergarten entry assessment for each student in their class, and

Leveraging GOLD® beyond the KEA as an ongoing, formative assessment, teachers can make informed checkpoint decisions about how their students’ development and learning is progressing to support better learning outcomes. When you meet a child at exactly where she currently is developmentally, the child will have more success in learning the skills and progressing towards the expected benchmark. To learn more about how teachers can purposefully use GOLD® data to share individualized activities with families, please watch this on-demand webinar!

  • promote powerful family partnerships during the assessment process and during remote learning through an online family portal and mobile app

Teachers can share information regarding their kindergarten children with families, using GOLD® data to provide guidance on how to nurture their development and learning. This includes sharing documentation collected by teachers, individualized reports (such as the Development and Learning Report), and developmentally appropriate activities to extend in-classroom instruction or support remote learning. Families can then use the MyTeachingStrategies® Family platform or mobile app to share pictures, videos, and notes they’ve collected, which teachers can use as documentation to inform their kindergarten entry assessment or an additional GOLD® checkpoint. To learn more about using family observations as GOLD® documentation, please watch this on-demand webinar!

How will I be able to complete the kindergarten entry assessment process this fall?

We know that there are still many uncertainties about the fall. But Teaching Strategies is prepared to support all kindergarten teachers, even if their classroom is brick-and-mortar, virtual, or some combination of both. We’ll have more information soon about additional remote learning solutions from Teaching Strategies. We recently hosted a live webinar, Getting More Out of the Kindergarten Entry Assessment Process, as part of our Best Practices for Early Childhood Education Continuity Webinar Series. You can access an archive of this webinar to learn how Teaching Strategies currently supports the kindergarten entry assessment process and how kindergarten teachers using GOLD® can leverage the Teach area and the Family area in MyTeachingStrategies® to get the most out of their assessment efforts.

What if I don’t have a kindergarten entry assessment requirement?

If you are a kindergarten educator in a state that doesn’t have a kindergarten entry assessment requirement, or your state does, but you are looking for more resources, please know that The First Six Weeks: Building Your Kindergarten Classroom Community gives you the tools you need to create a caring classroom community during the first six weeks of school. Designed to complement any developmentally appropriate kindergarten curriculum, The First Six Weeks: Building Your Kindergarten Classroom Community focuses on supporting children’s social–emotional development as you build positive relationships with children and families and lay the foundation for a successful school year.